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Goin' Back To Denver

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So I took Sunday off to rest and forget about the Avalanche for a day, a recuperative break that was very much needed after their pathetic showing on Saturday afternoon.

I enjoyed watching the Penguins beat the Rangers 2-0, and enjoyed the almost-constant debate about whether or not Sidney Crosby is, in fact, a diver.  And then watching Chris Drury take an obvious dive on a weak holding call was icing on the cake.  Nobody even mentioned what was so clear on the screen: he dropped to the ice for no reason other than to secure a power play for his team.  And you know what?  It was the right move, because his team wasn't getting the chances they needed and another power play was better than nothing.  Is Chris Drury a bad hockey player?  No, he's a great hockey player, and his dive was strategically very smart, if ultimately futile.  If you believe a hockey game is as much a chess match as a battle of will and honor, then you probably agree with me.

But anyway, about the Avalanche.  I really find it strange that here (and elsewhere) there has been an ongoing debate (more like attack and defense) about which team---the Avs or the Wings---is more talented.  I fail to see how any of that talk matters at all.  Games aren't won on paper, they're won on the ice.  The Avalanche could have four or five hall of fame players in their lineup and have the best goaltender of all time, but if they get out-scored 5-1, none of it matters.  Or 7-0.  The only thing that matters is the scoreboard.

I may have academic tendencies (law school starts in the fall), but there's no academic argument to be had here.  I don't care how good or "deep" the Avs may be, they're still not winning games.  The Avs have gotten beat twice, and they're now down two games to none heading home for game 3 tomorrow.  

A truly deep team would shrug off injuries to its top offensive and defensive players and keep winning games.  The Avs have not done that.  They have lost (for various reasons, not just injury) Peter Forsberg, Wojtek Wolski, Scott Hannan and Jose Theodore, and they have lost the first two games of the series, one in pathetic fashion, to the hated Red Wings.

One could argue that the Avs have been disadvantaged in all six games they have played against the Red Wings this season, and one would be right.  Joe Sakic, Ryan Smyth, Paul Stastny, Marek Svatos, and the players I mentioned above have all missed time against Detroit.  But does that matter?  The only thing that matters is that the Avalanche, once equal to (or better than) their archenemies from Emptytown, are 0-6 against them this season.

0-6.  

By the end of the week they could be 0-8.  

There's nothing to argue with anyone about which team is better, or more talented, or deeper, or more hampered by injuries, or more prone to injuries, or dirtier, or whatever.  The only thing that matters is the score when the final horn sounds.  Is that a cop-out?  Who cares?  The winner of the series is determined by the scoreboard, and the scoreboard alone, and to argue otherwise is a waste of time and effort.

The Avs know they have to get it together.  They know that they have to turn at least some attention to freakin' Johan Franzen and his merry band of second-liners.  They're getting beat by the support staff, which is even worse than getting beat by Zetterberg and Datsyuk, because everyone expects them to score.  

I think it's telling that a guy named Mule, who had never had a hat trick in his professional life, scored one against the Avs in the playoffs.  If the Avs are to pull out of this series, that guy can never score again.

This isn't over, and a 2-0 deficit is not insurmountable, but things aren't looking good.  I have faith that the Avs can pull out a win in this series, because I love the team and want them to win the Cup.  The rest is up to them, whoever is healthy and on the ice in the Burgundy and Blue for the remainder of the series.

Go Avs!