Monday, March 29, 2010


As the regular season winds down, it has become nail chewing time for Avalanche fans. I know that I've found myself glued to each game wondering what exactly has happened to our team of the future since the Olympic break. Did the team get out of sync during the two week break? Did they use up all of their mojo before the Games?

I believe the answer can be deduced if one takes a moment to recognize that we are seeing a team of youngsters nearing the end of a compressed 82 game, Olympic year schedule. The boys are tired. Young teams do this, especially in Olympic seasons.

After the recent 4-3 loss to San Jose, Craig Anderson set the club record for goaltender appearances in a season, surpassing Patrick Roy's mark of 65 games. In interviews Andy has mentioned that the team is just not playing well, and that he is fine. I'm not buying it. Even the lowliest beer league keeper (me) can tell you when a goalie and his team are fighting the effects of exhaustion.

There is a difference between being on top of your game and playing hard, and throwing beer cans at an opponent like a cross-eyed transit worker coming off of a double shift.

The Avalanche are playing sloppy, tired hockey.

If there ever was a time when the Avalanche should get snowed in at an airport hotel, allowing them to catch some much needed Z's, that time is now.

They are hitting the wall harder than Rocky working over beef carcass.

Maybe this slump by the Avalanche is revealing something about Coloradans that nobody has taken seriously up to this point. When Coloradans aren't stalking David Letterman or shooting people, most of the time we are capable of venting our emotions through sports. This recession hasn't been like the other recessions that have had a pronounced effect on the state. This one is deep, and hurts, and is taking a long time to go away.

It is revealed in every heated shouting session under every Denver Broncos article in the Denver Post. It can be seen after every win by the Nuggets. It can be felt in the recent excitement around the Rockies. Colorado needs to win something. Desperately.

Thus the problem with getting overly excited about the Avalanche this season. They aren't ready yet. This is a team whose average age will be under 25 next year, and are poised to be an elite team for years to come. We must be patient with them.

If the Avalanche make the playoffs this year, great. But keep in mind that this team was supposed to finish in the basement of the Western Conference. Would it be a letdown if they miss the playoffs? Certainly. It would be hard to fight off the effects of the heightened expectations that have come with the unexpected success this season.

I re-learned a hard lesson during Team USA's Olympic run that I spent much of my youth learning as a Bronco fan. Never get your hopes up when you and everyone else around you suspects (or even worse, knows) that the team you are rooting for isn't supposed to be where they are. Your heart will get broken every time.

When the Avalanche consistently crush opponents by five goals we should get our hopes up. Until then we need to be patient and hope they are able to right the ship enough to slide into the postseason.