AVALANCHE

Over here, Broncos fans… it’s Avalanche and Nuggets season now

Oct 18, 2022, 11:01 AM
Nathan MacKinnon...
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

For decades now, the running joke about the Colorado Rockies was that all that they needed to do was stay relevant until the Denver Broncos’ preseason began. Once the boys in orange and blue started, Colorado’s sports fans could start paying attention to a team that would actually stand a chance of competing for something.

Turnabout’s fair play.

After the Broncos embarrassed themselves on national television yet again — this time in a must-win game against the division-rival Los Angeles Chargers, and with most of the Broncos’ new ownership group in attendance and almost certainly furious with what they witnessed — the competitive portion of their season is effectively over. Denver’s offense is shockingly inept under new head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who’s been so disappointing that he may not even reach his second season, and the 2-4 Broncos already look up at a whopping 11 other teams in the AFC; well out of the playoff chase with the most difficult portion of their season still looming. The team is injury-riddled, and that long list now includes new quarterback Russell Wilson, who looks like a shell of his former self while battling through a partially torn lat and an injured hamstring; unsurprising, given an offensive line that’s so porous that it’s become an insult to Swiss cheese.

Denver’s playoff drought will reach seven consecutive seasons, and if the surprising New York Jets — who would make the playoffs if they started today — somehow hold on and claim a wild-card spot, the Broncos will stand alone with the NFL’s longest current string of postseason futility.

Russ and the Broncos are cooked.

However, like so many fans hope from the Rockies, the Broncos did what they needed to do. They stayed relevant… at least until better and more competitive teams started their runs.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche blasted the rival Minnesota Wild, 6-3, on Monday night, but you probably missed it watching the Broncos look unwatchable again. On the bright side, you haven’t missed much yet, and the Denver Nuggets’ season tips off on Wednesday, as well — there’s plenty of time to get on board the bandwagons for legitimately good teams that play in the Centennial State.

The Avalanche, 2-1-0 following Monday’s win, have been averaging an absurd 4.7 goals per game in the season’s early going with five different players — Nathan MacKinnon (7), Mikko Rantanen (6), Valeri Nichushkin (6), Artturi Lehkonen (4) and Cale Makar (4) — averaging over a point a game as the Avs look as if they’re ready to bury the field once more. In Monday’s win, newly acquired goaltender Alexandar Georgiev saved 36-of-39 (.923) shots, including eight when the Wild were on the power play, and the nimble 26-year-old looks every bit the part of the potential long-term solution in net for Colorado.

While the Avalanche are obviously the best team in town, the Nuggets are poised to make a deep playoff run themselves… health permitting. Feel free to cross your fingers now.

Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokić’s inimitable style means that fans can’t afford to turn away — lest they miss seeing “The Joker” do something else that no 6-foot-11, 284-pound man’s ever done on a basketball court before — and he’s expected to have Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back in the fold. The duo were the Nuggets’ Nos. 2 and 3 scorers two seasons ago before injuries kept them from contributing last season.

A revamped roster, crafted by new general manager Calvin Booth, looks like a solid fit around Jokić, including new starting two-guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, versatile ace defender Bruce Brown and savvy, well-traveled Ish Smith, who should allow second-year ball of energy “Bones” Hyland to insert himself into Sixth Man of the Year award conversations. The Nuggets aren’t the title contender that the Avalanche are, but they’re far more of one than the Broncos are obviously going to be.

Broncos fans are frustrated, and rightly so. But what’s ailing the team can’t be fixed at least until the offseason, and as the dysfunction at Dove Valley continues to build, save yourself some stress — at the very least, the Avalanche and Nuggets are ready to provide you with a palate cleanser; something to wash the bitter taste of another wasted Broncos season out of your mouths.

Unless, you can’t actually watch them, that is. One problem at a time, Denver.

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Over here, Broncos fans… it’s Avalanche and Nuggets season now