“I have a big orange and blue blister on my soul as a sports fan.”
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I should be all fired up for Wednesday night. Hell, we all should be. But I find myself having a difficult time getting excited and I am blaming the Denver Broncos. I have a big orange and blue blister on my soul as a sports fan. It’s preventing me from feeling all warm and fuzzy about the Avalanche’ chances of eliminating the Wild at Pepsi Center.
Every game in this series has gone to the home team. The can will be electric, there’s no doubt about that. By all rites I (and we) should be filled with optimism that the Avalanche will get the victory, advance to round two and treat us to a memorable series with Chicago. But I am preparing for the worst.
It’s not exactly the Super Bowl. I get that. Winning game seven in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs would only a step on the road to the Stanley Cup finals for the Colorado Avalanche. But then the Broncos / Ravens game back in January of 2013 was only a first step for the heavily favored Donkeys yet that game didn’t fail to leave me in despair. In fact, the shock and awe of that loss was even more impactful than the horror of watching the Seahawks pull the Broncos apart at the seams in the bigger game last season.
I can’t put myself through that again.
The only healthy alternative is to predict and expect an awful loss and the same “we’ll get ’em next year” mentality that Broncos fans have adopted. I am already counting the reasons to be satisfied with what the Avalanche have already accomplished this season.
Nobody expected them to get this far. Perhaps a few pundits felt that they could be a playoff team but I didn’t hear anybody assert that with any vigor in the pre-season. Certainly nobody believed that Nathan MacKinnon would emerge as a hall-of-famer this quickly or that Patrick Roy’s aggressive methods would become a model for other coaches in the NHL. The Avalanche have already given us more than we though that we would get and they have big far more exciting than we anticipated.
The Avalanche are a young team. The average age of their players is just over 27. The forwards average only 26 years of age. Most of these youngsters are under contract for the foreseeable future and there’s zero reason to believe that they won’t return to the playoffs year after year.
So there really is always next year. And the year after that and the year after that. So losing on Wednesday isn’t all that big of a deal, right?
Just think of the value this first-round playoff run will prove to have had moving forward. In future seasons the Avalanche will benefit from this experience, understand how playoff hockey differs from regular season hockey and know that they have to leave it all on the ice every night, every game, every series. They’ll know to keep their heads on a swivel because of head hunters like Matt Cooke.
Nathan MacKinnon will be one year older and one year wiser when the Avalanche meet for camp before next season. Hole role as a team leader will be more clear. Landeskog the captain will be older, too. We forget that he won the Calder just a couple of years ago. The Swede will only be 22 years old next season. Varlamov the Russian will enter next season with a pimps grip on the starting goaltender position and have the confidence of knowing that he was the Avs’ MVP in 2014.
The Avalanche still have a big game seven to play on Wednesday night but it’s not too soon to look ahead to next year. It’s the sane thing to do, after all, if your a Broncos fan.
Perhaps it’s not fair to temper expectations for the Avalanche based on the failures of the Denver Broncos. We’ve had our hopes dashed enough this year, though. No sense in investing too much emotional stock in Wednesday night.
Expecting an Avs loss on Wednesday is the healthy thing to do.