The day began full of hope and anticipation as YOUR Colorado Avalanche took on the Sharks in San Jose, and ended with yours truly getting beaten in Cheongju, Korea by a shot that defied all logic and bounced into the goal off of my back. Kill me.
A few thoughts have been rattling around in my head since yesterday's overtime loss.
First, if the Avs had a top-flight, shut down defensemen, they would be up 2-0 on the Sharks and the terrible, constantly booing fans of San Jose would be trying to figure out how their Sharks were beaten by a bunch of upstart punks, 5-2.
Second, Ryan O'Reilly is neither man or machine. Rather he is an interstellar entity made of pure energy and sandpaper. I hereby call upon the Colorado Avalanche Research and Development Department to assemble the world's best scientists to research O'Reilly, and find a way to duplicate him in the form of a shut down defenseman.
Finally, if Daejeon had anything resembling actual, decent nachos, complete with "cheese" and jalapenos (or even better "deluxe" nachos with meat, sour cream, and guacamole like they have at the Pepsi Center) I would not have a blog, I would have a giant tub of nachos in the center of my tiny Korean apartment which I would swim through like Scrooge McDuck. I have seen "nachos" here and I would not touch them with a ten foot pole. Fake cheese is not supposed to be pinkish, or greenish. It is supposed to be neon yellow and taste like "spicy."
Surely the Avalanche have been defying expectations all season, but it is my belief that a series victory over San Jose would not only force that portion of California into hiding in their mom's basements out of shame, but would put the Avalanche on the fast track towards dominance next season.
Until the last game against the Sharks, the Avalanche had shown poise and confidence beyond their years. Behind the extremely stout goaltending of Craig Anderson they have given hope to many Colorado hockey fans who were otherwise ready to hunker down for many years of rebuilding.
Anderson did his best once again to stop the bleeding against the incredibly talented Sharks, stopping the puck 46 out of 52 times, but if the Avalanche are to have any chance of surviving the first round, they must patch the holes in their defense.
Ryan O'Reilly aside, the Avalanche seemed more like a group of eight year old children chasing around a soccer ball than a group of professional hockey players. They took penalties when penalties weren't necessary and avoided intelligent defensive zone tactics at inopportune moments.
I'm certain Joe Sacco did his best to explain to the boys that when you have the puck on your stick in your own zone on the penalty kill, the best option is to always hammer the thing to the other side of the rink, but this logic seemed to escape the Avalanche. Chalk one up to "lessons learned during your first playoff series."
This is a team of the future, but for them to have any chance of taking control of this series at home the Avalanche must play smarter and harder in their own zone.
If not, their inadequacies on defense will come back to bite them.