April 5, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco stands behind his bench during the third period of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Pepsi Center. The Blue Jackets defeated the Avalanche, 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
Not with a with a bang, but with a whimper, the Avs slim playoff hopes were finally ended last night. Colorado needed some help to get things done and, in the end, San Jose would have knocked Colorado out with their comeback win against the Kings. But the curtain was already closed on the season by then, because the Avs failed to finish their own work.
The Columbus Blue Jackets had already clinched the worst record in the league and had nothing to play for other than pride. To their credit, they showed up for work and played a solid game. The Colorado Avalanche had everything to play for...and, for the most part, played a sloppy and uninspiring game. What's wrong with that picture? At one point, Altidude Mike Haynes noted that the Blue Jackets were playing like it was game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. A bit of an exaggeration to be sure, but the takeaway here is that it should have been the Avs playing like a team possessed.
This is one of those "feel" things, but it sure seemed like the Avalanche had an alarming tendency to come out flat in big games this year. This is a talented young team with a lot of solid pieces in place for the future. But it also seems like a team that is still missing some key ingredients not only one the ice but off the ice as well. I don't know if it is coaching, or player personalities or the fact that only 15,000 people showed up for a critical home game. Whatever it is, it needs to be addressed because this team doesn't have enough talent to overcome laying an egg in a critical game like that. They needed to play good, hard, smart hockey last night to help themselves. They didn't.
Colorado was in 7th place back on March 21st, but then lost 5 of their next 6, scoring just 7 goals in those 5 losses. This would have been a tremendous opportunity for the young team to make a statement and show the hockey world that they were ready to take that next step. Clearly, they aren't ready yet.