This game was a microcosm of the Avalanche season. Began in a deep hole, climbed out of it and got close to breaking even, but ultimately fell apart in the end. That's exactly what happened this season. How fitting.
The Colorado Avalanche played its eighty-second game of the 2015-16 season with nothing to play for against a team who has quite a lot to play for. Anaheim could win the Pacific and solidify home-ice for a good stretch of their impending postseason. This game certainly represented which team has stuff to play for and which one doesn't.
1st Period: Anaheim jumped out to a 2-0 lead off goals from Cam Fowler and Jakob Silfverberg.
2nd Period: Ryan Garbutt scored to make it 3-0 Ducks. At this point, I'm thinking, "Screw it, just wave the white flag and end this season once and for all. I've had enough blowouts." Luckily though, the Avs started to show some effort after this dismal beginning. Nick Holden had a nice goal where he did all the work even though Erik Johnson got an assist, and then Jarome Iginla made it 3-2 with his 22nd goal this year.
3rd Period: The Avs showed some desire to win this game, but eventually it faded away, and it did rather quickly when Ryan Getzlav made it 4-2, followed up immediately by Silfverberg's second goal of the game to put this contest away for good. Zach Redmond put home a power play goal late to make it a 5-3 final score.
Mr. Fish's Three Sardines:
The final edition of Mr. Fish's Three Sardines and Flounders (patent still pending) will look at the season as a whole, not just this particular game.
#3: Joe Sakic: I truly believe Sakic showed a lot of growth as a general manager this season. Back in September, many of us would have probably agreed an 82 point season without a playoff berth would cost Sakic the season. However, when you read between the lines, Sakic made some good midseason trades that probably should have allotted a better ending result. The trade for Mikkel Boedker in exchange for Alex Tanguay was particularly important to me because it showed Sakic could be cutthroat by trading his longtime friend and former teammate. He recognized Tanguay was an aging player with little to offer going forward, and dealt him. It was important for me to see he could do that. The Shawn Matthias trade proved to be a good one too. I can honestly say I feel more at ease with Sakic calling the shots now than I did this time last year.
#2: Nathan MacKinnon: We'll never know what would have happened for the Avalanche down the stretch had MacKinnon not been injured in that game at Edmonton. Maybe the Avs would have made the playoffs with the 2013 first overall pick in the lineup. MacKinnon came tied for second in points on the year with Landeskog at 52, and Nathan missed ten games. The youngster overall did bounce back from his sophomore slump and showed some improved physical skill and some feistiness which hadn't been seen much in his first two years. His situation going forward is an interesting one with his status as a restricted free agent, but I expect to see MacK back in an Avalanche uniform this fall, hopefully healthy.
#1: Matt Duchene: What a strange road it was for the Avalanche's best player. His October was horrendous, and I, among many thought that Duchene should be considered for trade bait. He shut all of us up though by finishing the season with 30 goals and 29 assists for a 59 point season in 76 games played. Without question he's the best player the Avalanche have and the most energetic/feisty player on the Avs who is actually good (because McLeod is certainly not good). I hope Sakic doesn't take October me's advice and look to trade him this summer. If someone's going to be traded from the "core," let it be Landeskog, but that's for a discussion at another time.
Mr. Fish's Three Flounders:
#3: Patrick Roy: Roy got a pass last season for the regression from his first year, because his rookie head coach season was certainly overachieving from both him and the team he came in with. This year though, there's serious doubt if he should be the one leading this team. The "system," his generic post game interviews after tough losses, it was a black mark for the hall of fame goaltender's coaching career. Not much to say except hope he improves in his fourth year. At this point, I say if the Avalanche miss the playoffs again next year, he has to go.
#2: Home ice disadvantage: The Avalanche's home record this season was 17-20-4. That's just painful to type. That can't happen if you expect to make the playoffs in the league's toughest division. To put it one way, only five of the sixteen teams from the East lost in their one visit to Pepsi Center. Columbus, Toronto, and Carolina were among the many that did win in Denver. It's just not good. For being 5280 feet above sea level, you've got to make home ice a benefit to you, not a detriment.
#1: Blown 3rd Period leads/Blowout losses: The amount of third period meltdowns the Avs suffered this season was excruciating. The very first one on opening night against Minnesota, while at the time looked at as a one-time thing, became a disturbing trend and cost the Avalanche oh so many points. With those points in their pocket, this team would probably be gearing up for a game on Wednesday or Thursday. But that, along with the amount of blowout losses the Avs had this year prohibited that from happening. By my count, the Avs lost sixteen games by three goals or more. That's almost a fifth of the season wiped away by not showing up or by being completely dominated. Obviously, it just has to be improved.
I wish there were more game recaps that were on the way for the Avalanche this season, but that's just not the case. I've firmly enjoyed doing it in my first year as part of the MHH writing staff and can't wait to get back at it this fall. Between now and then, I'll be here and I'll have some articles that come with me. For those that don't frequent MHH during the Avalanche offseason, I wish you all the best of summers and appreciate you taking the time to read my products. Hopefully next season, there will be a lot more winning ones than I had this year. I'm not sure what my record was this year as far as winning or losing recaps, but I feel like I only wrote five recaps after Avalanche wins. Maybe I'm just bad luck, and if so I'll get away from a keyboard for the team's sake.
Thanks for being such a cool, fun community to write for, peeps.