You'd think a big loss like the Avs suffered against the Wild yesterday would change the face of the division and the playoff race, but it didn't. Minnesota still hasn't clinched the Northwest Division title, and Calgary's loss against Vancouver makes it harder for the Flames to pull it off.
Nothing has changed.
- The Avs can still win the Northwest Division title.
- The Avs can still finish fourth in the division.
- The Avs can start the Western Conference playoffs in the third seed.
- The Avs can miss the playoffs entirely.
If the Avs win their final two games, and the Wild and the Flames lose the rest of theirs, the Avs will win the division through a tie-breaker with the Wild (Colorado would have more wins). But, if the Avs lose the next two games, there's a very strong possibility that they will be out of the playoffs entirely. "Down to the wire" doesn't even cover this insanity.
As for the game, what a heartbreaker. The Avs got off to their customary first period deficit by giving up two early goals. But then Jose Theodore went into Pimp Cane mode, shutting down Minnesota through two periods, stopping 11 shots as the Avs tied it up with some serious heroics from Wojtek Wolski and Jeff Finger in the second period. Wolski assisted on both Avalanche scores and Finger had a goal and an assist.
The third period had no penalties and no goals for either team.
Overtime lasted three minutes, when so-good-it's-impossible-to-hate-him Marian Gaborik scored his 40th goal of the season to win it for the Wild. The Avs pulled out a point from the mess, which helps, but the loss is still a setback of sorts. Even though Colorado has moved up to the sixth seed in the West, just one point ahead of Calgary, the chances of winning the division are pretty slim. The Avs still have games against Vancouver and the Wild (again). Consider that the final game of the season (April 6th) could actually determine the division champ, just in case your brain hasn't melted yet.
Even more mind-boggling, if the Avs fail to clinch the division by losing to the Wild on the 6th, they could finish as the sixth seed and have to play the Wild in the first round of the playoffs. Oh my god.
Peter Forsberg missed the game with what is now reported as a "groin injury" but it isn't. It's late-season code for "he didn't feel like playing." That doesn't mean he's lazy, just out of shape and getting too many minutes. That we already knew.
Adam Foote played more than 23 minutes and apparently didn't die, so that's good news. Jordan Leopold, the inheritor of the hip injury bug, should be back against the Canucks tomorrow.
Joel Quenneville needs to behave himself behind the bench and stop getting "Abuse of Official" penalties. He put his team at serious risk in the first period for no reason at all. Nobody ever won a shouting match with a ref anyway.
Oh, and finally, the power play still sucks.
Vancouver on Tuesday. Then the Avs fly back to Denver and play Xbox until April 6th.
Stars of the Game:
- The Wild