The Avalanche can come away from this season, if nothing else, with the consolation that they finally put it all together after last season.
Things went on a quick downward spiral almost before the year even got started in 2016, with players openly admitting they were ready to phone it in by December and the team exhibiting an almost unprecedented level of suck through their 82-game season.
This year, they have already surpassed last season’s points total by a whopping 21 points, and they still have the potential to earn as many as 42 more points before the regular season comes to a close. That’s an almost comical reversal of fortune, even if they struggle down the back stretch.
That being said, a team can improve and still expect better things than a sweep by the Alberta pair as February wraps up.
First, the Avalanche struggled to earn a point against the Edmonton Oilers with an overtime loss, falling to Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in a tough-to-swallow final decision.
Then, they struggled immensely against the Calgary Flames on Saturday afternoon, putting up streaks of offensive pressure but ultimately caving in the third period to end with a 5-1 loss in regulation to a conference rival in what can only be described as a must-win game for a team hoping to see postseason action. [Mile High Hockey]
All hope for Colorado hockey is not lost, though; the team is just four points out of the second Wild Card spot, and they hold two games in hand to the team currently sitting in that position.
There’s also other Colorado hockey pride to be had right now.
The Denver Pioneers are currently out of the #1 position in the NCAA standings, but they’re not far out: as they spend their weekend facing off against St. Cloud State (the actual #1 team right now), they sit comfortably at #3. [MHH]
There’s also the incredible fact that Colorado native Nicole Hensley helped make history this past week. The 23-year-old Lindenwood alumnus helped the US Women’s Team take home gold for the first time in 20 years at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang on Wednesday night, proudly earning her medal with a shutout over the Olympic Athletes from Russia in the preliminary round.
Speaking of the Olympics: the women’s gold medal game was absolutely unreal hockey, but the men’s tournament was a decided disappointment this year on a lot of fronts.
With that in mind, should the Olympic team for USA go all-college next time around if the league pulls out again? It’s an interesting proposition, at the very least - although caveat, it doesn’t seem likely that the NHLPA will let this spectacle go lightly during the next (inevitable) lockout. [Mile High Sports]
Around the NHL, it’s been trade central lately.
On Friday, the entire league watched the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Vegas Golden Knights do their best impression of Donald Trump and Russia, all but openly colluding in a bizarre three-way trade with the Ottawa Senators.
Here’s how things seemed to go down:
The Ottawa Senators dealt Derick Brassard to the Vegas Golden Knights (for just a third-round pick in 2019), who then promptly flipped him to Pittsburgh for Ryan Reaves and a fourth round pick.
Did I mention that they retained 40% of Brassard’s salary while they were at it?
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, then dealt a first round pick in 2018, Ian Cole, and goaltending prospect Filip Gustavsson to the Senators for a 2018 third-round pick and Vincent Dunn, a 2013 fifth-round selection who seems to be squandering in the lower tiers of the AHL and the ECHL.
In essence, the Penguins got an absolute steal, moving a first round pick, a fourth round pick, a fourth-line enforcer, Ian Cole, and a goaltending prospect for a cost-controlled Derick Brassard, who will shore up their center depth in an almost terrifying way.
Ottawa got a decent haul, picking up a third-round pick, a middle-pairing defenseman, a quality goaltending prospect, and a first rounder without having to retain any salary in the deal. Vegas, on the other hand, got... Ryan Reaves and a fourth-round pick, and an extra $2 million cap hit for a player that will spend absolutely zero time on their roster.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen a salary flip like this, but it is the first time we’ve seen one where the team holding on to the salary really gets no benefit from it.
When the Lightning flipped Mark Streit in a similar manner to Brassard last year, they had at least gotten to shed Valtteri Filppula’s contract in the first transaction. Vegas, on the other hand, gets no real benefit other than keeping Brassard out of the Western Conference - a steep price to pay for such a large chunk of his salary. But the league eventually OK’ed the deal, so who are we to complain?
The Islanders also made a mockery of the Montreal Canadiens when they picked up Brandon Davidson from the Edmonton Oilers for a third-round pick, just months after Montreal gave him away for free. The Oilers are in their own hot water for the deal, though, since they insisted they would be adding bodies and not picks this coming week:
Chiarelli said that he wants actual players at the deadline. He gonna use this pick as part of a package for something?— Baggedmilk - Beet writer til .500 (@jsbmbaggedmilk) February 24, 2018
We would also be remiss not to shine some light on the drama that is the Ottawa Senators right now:
I'm not saying Dion blew up the Sens but I'm not not saying that pic.twitter.com/eUOE3szczr— Ryan (@ryanfancey) February 23, 2018
Holy. Shit. This Senators drama is the gift that keeps on giving. pic.twitter.com/N86Y98deVP— grizzo (@mrgrozz) February 23, 2018
Let me be perfectly clear: I think that this is all some peak National Enquirer nonsense that none of us have any business believing.
That being said, the Senators are in a bit of a free-fall, and the rumors have been absolutely insane to follow. Given their team’s history of not paying stars much (but somehow paying Bobby Ryan everything and more until kingdom come), and given that Bob McKenzie of TSN is at least confirming that the team is actively shopping Erik Karlsson, it’s hard not to let our imaginations run a bit wild.
In less exciting talks, Michael Grabner has been moved, and it could set the market for a potential Blake Comeau deal. [MHH]
Speaking of Avalanche trades, here’s a look at how Tyson Barrie feels about possibly being trade bait... again. Paywall, so subscription required. [BSN Avs]
FINALLY, let’s talk about Hygge.
Today, I was reading an absolutely absurd article titled ‘Don’t jog, Plogg!’, which boiled down to a Scandinavian insistence that I stop going for basic runs and start going for runs with trash bags and gloves, picking up garbage as I go along and treating it like some demented Amazing Race.
All of this led to the rabbit hole that introduced me to this Danish concept called ‘hygge’, pronounced ‘heugh-eh’ and ultimately going down as, pardon my lack of an adequate euphemism, the most white people nonsense I have read in a really long time.
I still don’t fully understand it, but the gist of ‘hygge’ seems to be that the Danes believe in filling their lives with as many moments as possible that are, and I quote, ‘absent of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming’. This, apparently, involves lots of candles and Danish pastries, ignoring work after 5pm, and a design style referred to by one author as ‘grotto-fabulous’. Whatever that means.
Danes are regularly voted the happiest people on earth, so there may be some merit to this nonsense, but I remain heavily suspicious of what drugs are involved (or, frankly, how many of these ‘Hygge-centric people’ have children under the age of 4) in achieving this lifestyle.
Anyways, here’s a nice long read about this acid trip of a life concept. If you figure it out, you gotta let me in on the secret. [The Telegraph]