The Colorado Avalanche finished the final week of play in the heart-wrenching fashion typical of the entire season. While many view it as a mercy killing, the end of the Jekyll & Hyde season is bittersweet, as the poor record reflects not only dashed hopes but the potential end of some players' time in Colorado. And the upcoming offseason threatens to read like a dime store novel as people wait with baited breath to see what, if any, changes the Avalanche organization devices.
1. The Colorado Avalanche actually earned three points in the final week of their season, while playing three playoff-bound teams. The Avalanche played exciting and competitive games, even when behind, while fielding new line combinations with recent call-ups. While that may seem insignificant, keep in mind Colorado only earned three points or more in a one-week period (calculated from Tuesday to Monday) four other times since October. So, yay? And where was this effort three months ago? Oh yeah, in the minors.
2. Congratulations to newcomer Tyson Jost who notched his first ever NHL goal! In the past week, Jost averaged over 16 minutes of ice time, logged 9:03 power play minutes and 5:14 of penalty kill time in the four tilts. He also played in both overtimes. For a guy who just played his sixth NHL game, he certainly earned his way up the roster in rapid fashion. Everyone can look forward to watching his play evolve next year. Anyone doubting his selection now? Thought not.
3. Recent call-up J.T. Compher continued to impress as he centered a rejuvenated second line with Matt Duchene and Matt Nieto. Compher averaged nearly 18 minutes of ice time per game in the last four games (35.52 TOI), contributing 8:09 on the power play and 6:06 on the penalty kill. His responsible center play also re-ignited his linemates offensive abilities. Compher exhibited tendencies which could make him a force to be reckoned with next year. Won the trade!
4. Wing Rocco Grimaldi earned an assist in his three limited game appearances after being recalled from San Antonio. For a guy who is only 5’6”, his gutsy play on the ice sure made him look bigger.
5. The long-awaited showcase for defenseman Duncan Siemens seemed all too brief to fully assess his abilities. His six hits in the tight matchup with the Minnesota Wild offered a glimmer of hope he could do more if given the chance.
6. Alternate Captain Matt Duchene appeared to rediscover his game, especially against the Chicago Blackhawks, where he scored a goal and two assists. He finished the week with four points.
7. Speedy winger Sven Andrighetto continued to establish himself as a presence to be reckoned with as he accrued four quality assists and was robbed of a goal by a questionable call in the final minutes of the Wild match. Please sign him. Please. Pretty please. With sugar on top. Want a gift basket?
8. Captian Gabriel Landeskog quietly had another impressive week. In addition to his great two-way play, he scored two goals and an assist in the last four games. While it’s been a rough season, Landeskog earned his “C”, bringing quality effort to every game and encouraging his teammates.
9. Defenseman and Alternate Captain Francois Beauchemin had a three-point week as well, tallying two goals and an assist to finish his season with 18 points. It makes one wonder if he would be more productive down the road if he skated fewer minutes. Hint, hint.
10. Hey, TGBU was right last week! Defenseman Anton Lindholm WAS injured and missed the Blackhawks game. However, he returned with a vengeance against the Wild as he laid five solid hits and blocked three shots. He followed up his stellar performance with another quality effort against the Stars notching five more hits and another block. Lindholm gives all the earmarks of being a talented piece of the Avalanche’s future. Is he perfect? No. But at 22, he should continue to develop into an anchoring presence on the Avalanche blue line. There’s hope, people.
11. Avalanche prospect and DU Captain Will Butcher won the NCAA National Championship with his team and he earned the Hobey Baker Award. Butcher, a defenseman, represents yet another piece of the rebuilding puzzle as he would bring some solid defensive play to an organization still looking for depth. It’s good to know there’s quality in the pipeline. Now let’s get him signed. Like yesterday. Really. Not kidding.
12. Stick taps to Alternate Captain Nathan MacKinnon who appeared in his 300th NHL game Sunday against the St. Louis Blues. Congratulations!
1. Forward Mikko Rantanen missed two games last week and was seen with a boot on his foot. While he scored a goal in each of his final two matchups, one hopes the injury is minor. He already had a rough start to the season. No one wants a rough off season for a player who showed so much promise. Heal quickly and completely.
2. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov mentioned he had TWO surgeries on his hips, not just the one originally reported. It would be nice to know if two surgeries were part of the original plan, if something went wrong that needed to be corrected or if they found another issue to address. Each situation will impact his rehabilitation and recovery process. The Avalanche are all about protecting the privacy of their players, which is to be respected. But one would think they could have mentioned he needed TWO surgeries. Facts can be useful to engender public support. It’s a marketing ploy worth considering, especially with such a disheartening season.
3. Was it really necessary to send down Grimaldi, Siemens and Lindholm before the last game? Would 24 hours have drastically changed anything? The new players brought life and energy to a team that seemed listless. The Avalanche actually showed resiliency after getting behind. It would have been nice to watch the last game of the season focusing on the future, instead of questioning player moves, again. Bad. Just bad.
1. Big huge projectile baskets of flaming poo for the NHL officiating crew for the Wild matchup who gave ‘ugly’ new meaning. First the referees missed the call on a potentially game-tying goal by Andreghtto in the waning moments of the game. Then the review process took a decade. Then it was challenged. Another interminable wait. And then the goal was waived off, supposedly for goaltender interference. Maybe the call wouldn’t sting so much if the NHL had ruled similarly on behalf of the Avalanche this season. And what about the continued cross-checking and hooking infractions that were completely ignored? It’s time for the NHL officiating process to get an overhaul. Until then, anyone have a spare trebuchet? Some projectiles need to be launched.
2. Would the Avalanche please explain why everyone had to suffer through a total crap February when there was real talent in San Antonio? If there is a reason, could you please share it with the class? Otherwise, it just looks like another poor management decision allowing the team to linger on life support when there was real talent and ability jwaiting in the wings for an opportunity.
1. After only three game appearances, the Avalanche sent down forward Rocco Grimaldi and defenseman Duncan Siemens. With the Colorado Eagles upcoming playoff run in the ECHL, San Antonio will be sending players down and need the bodies.
2. Defenseman Anton Lindholm also returned to the Rampage, although he had a longer tryout with the Avalanche, appearing in 12 NHL games.
WHAT TO WATCH
1. With Colorado’s season mercifully over, one might think there’s not much to watch. However, playoff hockey elevates the game to a whole new level. And there will be players the Avalanche may consider acquiring, especially since the organization should have $20 million in cap space to sign players in the offseason.
2. There may also be some coaching and management changes upcoming and hopefully some of the new personnel will be coming from playoff contenders. Keep an eye out for any upcoming moves.
3. After DU won the national title, the ‘sign Will Butcher’ clock started. The saga continues. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Cross your fingers everyone.
4.Next week, TGBU will do a season round-up, so there will be more information to come!