Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate Colorado Avalanche Community!

We witnessed something special from the Avs Wednesday night

Adrian Dater Avatar
April 19, 2018

Now, that was heart.

I’ve covered the Colorado Avalanche most of the time since they came to town in 1995, and that might have been the gutsiest, biggest show of pure heart I’ve ever seen from this team on Wednesday night in Game 4 against Nashville.

A team without its No. 1 defenseman. A team without, in my opinion, its No. 2 defenseman. A team without its No. 1 goaltender. A team without its third-line center for some of the third period because of yet another blindside cheap shot to the head by a Nashville Predators player. A three-goal deficit in that same third period.

Everything was against the Avs. It would have been perfectly reasonable to expect them to pack it in, lick their wounds and, like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, try to come out Friday night in Nashville with guns blazing for one last stand.

They didn’t pack it in. They stood and fought. And as anyone with working eyes could see, they had the supposedly invincible Predators reeling the entire third period. They were just trying to do the rope-a-dope and get out of Denver with what finished a 3-2 win. Only a lucky crossbar saved Pekka Rinne and the Predators from having that game tied up at the end. Former Predator Colin Wilson clanged a shot off the iron. Otherwise, we’re all probably still watching overtime hockey right now, as I type.

Hell, even Von Miller was inspired, jumping around in his front-row seat, waving a white pom-pom like the rest of the crowd at the Pepsi Center.

No matter what happens Friday night – and it’s gonna be akin to Butch and Sundance with their six-shooters coming out against the full Bolivian army, trying to get a win in that madhouse – this Avs team now has a firm tenancy in our hearts.

That was the real deal in that third period, all guts. Nashville was lucky – lucky – to get off the ice with that win. Yes, they earned that 3-0 lead entering the period. They get full marks for what was a dominant forechecking scheme that forced all kinds of turnovers from the short-handed Avs defense in that first period. For the first time in the series, the Avs were the ones on their heels at the start of the game.

The Predators finally exploited the Avs’ exposed underbelly with Lancelot-style precision in Game 4. Without workhorse No. 1 defenseman Erik Johnson and without supremely gifted puck-handler Sam Girard, the Avs’ defensive corps were like a waiter trying to carry a tray full of too many drinks at last call. Just too wobbly, too many perilous obstacles getting in the way. Eventually, somebody is going to bump into the waiter and the tray of drinks is going to smash all over the floor.

The Predators’ game plan was simple: Attack the hell out of the Avs’ defense on the forecheck, get in deep and swarm around the Avs’ puck-handler. That strategy carries some risk; If you don’t get in fast enough, if you allow time and space to the puck-handler, that could leave you vulnerable outside the swarm area to outlet passes.

Peter Laviolette gambled that the Avs’ D wouldn’t be able to get the puck to the forwards if they could get in deep enough on the forecheck, and he won that gamble.

By the end, though, Laviolette had to call a timeout and chewed his team out. They were getting worked by a rag-tag lineup that included a journeyman third-string goalie.

If this was to be the last Avs game of the season on home ice, they gave the fans one hell of a good show at the end. The Avs may well go down Friday night.

But, we know this much about these guys now:

It won’t be without a fight.

Comments

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

The Comment section is only for diehard members

Open comments +

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?