The Colorado Avalanche are entering the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs with perhaps the most daunting task of any team in the dance. Taking on the Presidents’ Trophy winning Nashville Predators who came only two victories short of winning it all last spring. Nashville has a ton of talent, size, speed and an outstanding goaltender in Pekka Rinne. The Predators are heavily favored to not only win this series, but are being picked by many to win the Stanley Cup. Nobody is giving the Avalanche a chance in this series but guess what? This Avalanche team is perfectly okay with that.
Everybody around the game of hockey remembers just how bad the Colorado Avalanche were last year. Historically bad. It seemed like nothing went right and most experts predicted that this season would be only marginally better. Acting like a bunch of defiant kids, the Avalanche didn’t listen to a word of it.
With a roster that looked very different to start the season, this team came out of the gate with something to prove. They finished above .500 in the month of October and won another six games out of 12 in the month of November. On January 6th, Colorado won their 22nd game of the season which tied their win total from the year before. This win also came in the middle of a 10 game winning streak that propelled the Avalanche into playoff contention.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about that 10 game streak is the fact that starting goalie Semyon Varlamov went down with an injury after the first game. The next nine wins came on the shoulders of veteran backup Jonathan Bernier.
Even after this stretch of games, the Avalanche were still counted out. Heading in to the last game of the season, Colorado lost all three games on a California road trip and entered game 82 out of the playoff race. They would play the St. Louis Blues for a chance to make the playoffs for the first time since 2014. The season series between these two teams up to that point was one win for Colorado and three for the Blues. In other words, the Avalanche were underdogs yet again.
This team wasn’t hearing any of it. They started the game with a fire lit under them. Led by Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, this team skated like men possessed and hit everything in sight. Leaving no doubt that Colorado was the team that deserved to make the playoffs, they beat the Blues 5-2 and punched their ticket to compete for the Stanley Cup.
The Nashville Predators also know a thing or two about being underdogs. They entered the 2017 playoffs as the last seed in the Western Conference before sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks on their way to the Stanley Cup Finals. Although they eventually lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins, it was an impressive run for a team that barely got in. The Avalanche hope to have similar success this postseason.
This first round series won’t be easy for the Colorado Avalanche. On paper, the Predators have about every advantage imaginable. Combined with the fact that they’ll have to do it without Semyon Varlamov and Erik Johnson, it seems like quite a mountain to climb. Nobody outside of that locker room is giving them a chance. Something tells me that this Colorado Avalanche team wouldn’t want it any other way.