Game 6 Preview: Avalanche at Wild

Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado lead the series 3-2. Chicago awaits the winner.

Tonight the Colorado Avalanche take their first shot at ending the Minnesota Wild's season.

It's long overdue, let's be completely honest. The League will be a better place with this franchise back home to their summer cottages so the rest of us can get back to actual hockey.

I mean don't get me wrong, this has been a very, ah, educational series, for all involved. It takes some time for the kids to learn what the playoffs are like. You have to feel out where the line is, what's an acceptable time frame to hit someone after they release the puck (answer: til the clock runs out + 2 seconds), what officials will tolerate as far as obstruction goes, and just purely the less game-like, more battle-like feel of things. Avalanche fans who have not seen the playoffs in a while may have had to re-learn some of these same lessons.

In a way playing the Wild has been good for them. Because no other team they could have faced abuses the officiating of playoff hockey more. St. Louis may come close, but they play the same way in the regular season too.

It's a team that employs noted shitheel Matt Cooke for the sole purpose of hitting you on the forecheck, then acts like we should all be surprised when that goes wrong, despite the guy's history. It's a team that generates offense by combining cycle with constant picks, screens, and outright interference, because otherwise it isn't talented enough.

It's a team that shuts you down by physically stopping you at or before the blue line whether you have the puck or not, because otherwise it isn't quick enough to keep up. And if that doesn't work, it shoves the net off its moorings, because it has used how many goaltenders now? I ran out of fingers and moved on to toes. I wouldn't trust Another Guy Not Named Josh Harding either.

That's all fine, I mean, it's frustrating to watch, and it makes for appallingly boring hockey. But it's the playoffs. Everyone expects the game to loosen up in terms of the rules--you have to actually experience it to know what that will mean, and the Avs have gotten lots of teachable moments from the experience.

But enough is enough. We've gathered our requisite injuries. We've fought through Clutch And Grab Like It's 1999. We've endured the bullshit of a franchise that spends $200 million for two guys and then screams about player salaries being too high in a desperate plea for a relevance it has never earned on the ice. I'm bored. This is all you have? You have to hit, trip, cross check, horsey-ride, and grab guys playing defense to open up passing lanes? You have to hug the forwards at the blue line to keep them from blowing your doors off? You have to blow up Tyson Barrie's knee to stop scoring from the blueline? And then your fans have the gall to literally scream about not being able to get an empty net shot away due to, irony of ironies, interference?

Go away, Minnesota, the self-proclaimed "State of Hockey" that somehow manages to have a Small Market Inferiority Complex anyway. Chicago, a real rivalry, and real playoff hockey await the Avalanche, and you have been in our way long enough.

Projected Avs Players

Duchene will play very limited even strength time to work on the wheels and on the power play, if he gets in, according to Roy. The decision will be made after morning skate today. One of the Monsters - Hishon or Carey probably - would give up their spot should Matt get in.

For our visitor from Hockey Wilderness, Paul Devorski and Francis Charron will be the Avalanche officials per Russo, and no, we do not know whether Patrick Roy has paid them or plans to wait til after the game to do it. Have you heard that Gabriel Landeskog is the youngest captain in the league and Nathan MacKinnon is only 18, by the way?

TV: 9:00pm Eastern. Yep, that's an 8:00 local start time on a Monday. gg NHL. CNBC, Altitude, and Fox Sports North.

SB Nation 2014 NHL Playoff Bracket

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