AVALANCHE

The Avalanche have a chance to avoid their own “Rahim Moore Game”

May 27, 2022, 6:37 AM | Updated: 6:39 am
Gabriel Landeskog...
(Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
(Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The Colorado Avalanche are lucky. After blowing multiple leads on Wednesday night, the Avalanche get a do-over and they should be eternally thankful.

After Nazem Kadri’s hat trick on Monday night, the Avalanche seemed to have shaken their bogeyman in the second round of the playoffs. Kadri’s performance, on the road, appeared to be the tipping point for the Avalanche. There was lot of emotion heading into Game 4 and the Avalanche were able to remain calm and walk away with a dominant victory.

The Avalanche matured that night in St. Louis. Or so we thought.

In Game 5, Nathan Mackinnon turned in one the best performances of his career including his third goal, which was one of the most remarkable individual efforts you will see in any sport. With less than three minutes to play MacKinnon’s third goal put the Avalanche ahead 4-3 and the game seemed to be in hand.

Then, it happened. With less than one minute to play in the third period, Robert Thomas of the Blues tied the game 4-4. The Avalanche would go on to lose 5-4 in overtime.

This should be familiar to Colorado sports fans because it happened nearly a decade ago. The Denver Broncos were leading the Baltimore Ravens in the second round of the playoffs with a touchdown lead and less than a minute to play. Incredibly, Joe Flacco connected with Jacoby Jones on a 70-yard touchdown to send the game into overtime. The Broncos would go on to lose in what is the most shocking loss in Colorado sports history.

It’s a mirror image of the Game 5 loss by the Avalanche.

In both situations, the Broncos and Avalanche had a lead in the final minute and managed to blow it. In both scenarios, had the Broncos and Blues won, they would have advanced to the conference finals.

The one difference is that the Broncos didn’t get a chance to redeem themselves. The NFL is one-and-done, but playoff hockey is a seven-game series and the Avalanche are very fortunate for that.

Robert Thomas’ goal was like the Jacoby Jones touchdown. It was a “I can’t believe that just happened” moment. The Avalanche, like the Broncos in 2013 were demoralized and Ball Arena was deflated. In both situations, they were unable to overcome the last minute blunder and lost in overtime.

The Game 5 loss was inexcusable, especially for a team with championship aspirations. If that would have been a closeout game, that loss would be sitting next to the Broncos loss to the Ravens as the biggest late-game collapse for a Colorado team.

Game 6 against the Blues will be the most-important game the Avalanche play. This is either the game where they prove the heartbreaking loss was a fluke or that they are truly haunted by the second round.

Every player on the 2012 Broncos roster has had to sit with that loss to the Ravens. For many of the players on that team, that was the closest they ever came to a Super Bowl. The Broncos were the best team in NFL that season and have nothing to show for it.

The Avalanche have the opportunity to avoid that fate.

For the Avalanche, if they close out the series on Friday, they can exhale and learn that they can’t let up. If the Avalanche hope to win the Stanley Cup, they cannot have collapses, especially if they end up playing a team like the Lightning.

The Avalanche are fortunate. They have an opportunity the 2012 Broncos weren’t afforded. They are fortunate that two nights after a heartbreaking loss they will have the chance to run it back.

If the Avalanche win the series, everybody will forget about Robert Thomas’ last-second goal. We will celebrate the Avalanche taking the next step towards the ultimate goal.

If the Avalanche lose the series, however, then it will be Joe Flacco to Jacoby Jones all over again. A decade later, we’re still not over that one.

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The Avalanche have a chance to avoid their own “Rahim Moore Game”