It may have occurred to many sports fans in the city of Denver over the past month or so: Once Broncos season ends, which of the other local teams is even worth my time?

If one can be brought to face such introspective questions, they may have found that the answer is not as easy as it may have been in years past. For a decade of George Karl, the Denver Nuggets were at least serviceable enough in the NBA’s stacked Western Conference to hold you over until summer (or until football discussion picked up significantly enough to declare sports purgatory officially lifted). But under Brian Shaw for the second straight season, the team is finally looking to do what probably should have been done the minute that Shaw was hired: Rebuilding.

The Colorado Rockies? Their season will come soon enough, and even someone such as myself who strives to stay positive ahead of opening day would have a tough time finding anything to smile about regarding the local baseball team’s offseason accomplishments.

What’s left then is the Colorado Avalanche.

Normally, the prospect of people tuning into hockey is an exciting proposition. Most hockey fans would kill to have the rest of sports world pay attention to their beloved pastime, even if the Avs aren’t exactly setting the world on fire this season. Unfortunately, people tuning in to watch the team this year might be counterproductive.

At this point, many key analysts are starting to have their suspicions confirmed that much of what the Avalanche accomplished in Roy’s debut season with the club can be chalked up to the perfect mix of players in the perfect set of circumstances. To wit, a team that was pitifully poor defensively and surrendered far too many shots were routinely bailed out by the combination of extremely timely scoring and a goaltender playing at an unsustainably high level.

Essentially, it was the NHL equivalent of what Karl had been doing with the Nuggets. It should surprise no one then that the team’s first-round defeat at the hands of a substantially less talented Minnesota team was so emphatic.

This year, the Avs sought to do more of the same, counting on another year of experience and the addition of veterans Jarome Iginla, Brad Stuart and Danny Briere to help bridge the experience/defensive gap with the team’s young players. But as Semyon Varlamov battled through injuries and Roy struggled to find a combination of lines that would produce consistent results, it became clear that the defensive depth and forward chemistry may not be substantial enough for Colorado to really turn the corner on the 2014-15 season.

But during the last month, the Avalanche seem to be turning things around. Since December 11, the Avs have collected at least a point in nine of 12 games and even though they would need to win 36 of their final 42 games to equal their point total from last year’s Central Division-winning team, there’s still the very real possibility of Colorado sneaking into the playoffs.

Despite the recent run, Avs fans would be wise to not get their hopes up for this team. Consider this: In the aforementioned past 12 games of “better hockey” by Colorado, the team has still surrendered an average of 34.1 shots per game, worse off than the 33.4 they give up on average for the season, fourth worst in the NHL. In fact, their “new and improved” number would be good for second worst in the league.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the team has averaged 26.8 shots for per game during their last 12 (which would be 28th in the NHL), versus 28.8 shots per game overall (24th in the NHL).

In short, Colorado is doing the same things they did last year and most of this year, not anything that is actually improving their stock. The difference is that they’ve gotten improved goaltending as of late and a higher proficiency offensively themselves, but these are fickle attributes that can’t be counted on as long-term building blocks.

Take last night’s win against the Blackhawks for example: Do you really think that expecting 54 saves from your goalie is a recipe for long-term success?

Expecting your goalie to stop 30-plus shots a night on a consistent basis is never going to be good enough in the playoffs. That’s why a growing number of Avalanche fans are starting to believe that despite his offensive numbers, Colorado’s decision to bring in Iginla in a desperate attempt to keep three balanced lines (in case you’re keeping score, the three balanced lines system has been in place since the beginning of Joe Sacco’s tenure as coach; you tell me how well it’s worked out overall), rather than spending that money on top-quality defensemen, could turn out to be a decision that the team regrets.

With just a few weeks of the NFL playoffs remaining, Denver fans are starting to branch out and see what’s out there to watch after Broncos season. Far be it for me to dissuade you from watching hockey, but the Colorado Avalanche’s recent run of success is fool’s gold.

Here’s hoping another team can surprise us and contend in 2015.