No, that’s not what the final score was in the Colorado Avalanche’s 2-1 lopsided loss to the Minnesota Wild in game four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals on Thursday night, although it could have been were it not for Semyon Varlamov. That was just the shot total.
For the second straight night in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, the visiting team could hardly hold water against a much more aggressive and desperate club.
If you go back to the last game as well, the Avalanche have been outshot 78-34. That’s more than double for those too lazy to get a calculator.
That’s also not good.
Injuries are catching up to the Avs and desperation, something that fueled the Wild to even the series, hasn’t kicked in yet. The Avalanche looked tired, uninterested, and unable to compete for two games straight, potentially the longest stretch of this outstanding season.
Every game is a new chance to win or succeed or overcome all of the madness that now surrounds this once under-the-radar squad, but it has to start somewhere and it has to be sustained. The best breath of life the Avalanche could muster in game four came right after a fluke bounce off the glass left Charlie Coyle with a ripe, empty net tally.
You could see the rage and unabashed determination in forward Ryan O’Reilly’s posture as he skated up the ice. The same goes for Nick Holden, who got the puck in the zone moments before O’Reilly beat Darcy Kuemper for Colorado’s lone goal, a softie on the rookie tender.
Still, hockey is such a sport that the tides change as quickly as the puck moves on the ice. A lucky bounce, a hot streak, a passionate play can all change the outcome of a game. Colorado has done it many a time in the last few weeks.
That speaks, in part, to the fact that the Avs haven’t been playing the best hockey even before the postseason started, but also to the never-say-die attitude that drives the underdog from under the Rocky Mountains.
Game five will be the biggest game of the series… until game six rolls around. A loud crowd, a rejuvenated club, and the tables could turn once more in Denver.
Don’t forget, the playoffs are a bonus to an already amazing season. Win or lose, the Avalanche have shown everyone what it’s capable of and there will be much more of that for years to come.
Game five is Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. MST at Pepsi Center.