AVALANCHE

Avalanche make massive statement to start avenging past playoff failures

May 3, 2022, 10:53 PM | Updated: May 4, 2022, 4:49 pm
Mikko Rantanen...
(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

It was glorious.

The Avalanche kicked off 2022’s quest for a Stanley Cup with one of the most memorable first periods in postseason history. Colorado scored a ridiculous five goals, blew the top off Ball Arena multiple times and announced to the NHL world they’re coming for the trophy.

It’s one down, 15 to go, but you couldn’t have scripted a better start for what should be a long, long playoff run. Can anyone stop these Avs? Certainly not the Nashville Predators, who crawled back to their posh Denver hotel after an embarrassing 7-2 loss.

Mikko Rantanen hit a crossbar just seconds into the historic first period, but it didn’t matter. Both Nathan MacKinnon and Devon Toews ripped the twine within the first three minutes. Their goals came just 22 seconds apart and it was all but over.

Trade deadline acquisition Andrew Cogliano added a hard working shorthanded goal, Cale Makar danced beautifully like he always does for Colorado’s fourth goal and another newcomer, Artturi Lehkonen, added tally No. 5 with just under five minutes to go. Goodnight, Nashville.

This team might be more dangerous than an actual Avalanche. Okay, not really, but in terms of hockey I have no idea how anyone is going to beat Colorado four times in seven games. Sure, we felt the same way last year (and maybe even the year before), but sometimes battle scars can be lessons learned. The Avs ripped Denver’s heart out the last two seasons — they decided to rip the Predators for a little bit of revenge on Tuesday night.

No one knows what the rest of these playoffs hold for the Avalanche, but one thing is clear, what happened last year against Vegas and in the bubble against Dallas is still fresh on this team’s mind. A bubble Stanley Cup wouldn’t have been as fun, but it still would have ended a 19-year drought. Just when Ball Arena was getting ready to go back to full capacity a season ago, the Knights stole the Avalanche’s mojo and did the unthinkable by winning four straight.

Poof! It was over.

I don’t think we’ll ever truly understand the team’s collapse in 2021. Maybe in 10 years Mackinnon or captain Gabriel Landeskog will tell us what really happened, but it was painfully obvious something went severely wrong. It’s just one game, but this was a year’s worth of rage the Avalanche took out on Nashville. They’re not going to let a meltdown like Vegas happen again.

The only bummer about the Game 1 thrashing of the Predators was that, just like the regular season, a lot of Denver couldn’t watch the onslaught on television. This was supposed to be a national TV game on ESPN, but the stupid Rangers and Penguins went to 3OT and many folks missed it while the telecast was buried on ESPNU. I’m not sure if more people get the “U” or Altitude, but for a fanbase desperate to watch their team, it was a cruel start to the postseason.

The good news is there will be plenty of playoff games on national TV. As mentioned, the Avs need 15 more wins to secure the Stanley Cup, so they’ll play somewhere between 20 and 25 games if all goes according to plan. Yes, they will lose one here or there, but it likely won’t happen often.

The postseason push for the Avalanche really could not have gotten off to a better start. It was 20 minutes of mayhem in downtown Denver followed by a convincing win all around. They need to replicate a similar formula the rest of the way, but does anyone think that will be an issue?

Colorado exorcised some demons of past postseason failures against the Predators in Game 1. Now they need that same motivation every time out to fuel them toward a championship parade.
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