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Playoff Flurries: Lightning move on and Avs look to even it up

One more playoff series is over and done, but the Avalanche can still hold on

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NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Colorado Avalanche at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

A few seasons ago, the hockey world was gifted with a Miracle on Broad Street when virtual unknown Andrew Hammond made 34 stops in a 3-1 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Just days after celebrating his 27th birthday, Hammond - who had gone undrafted out of Bowling Green State University and had just 35 minutes of NHL experience when he was called up - started in net for the Ottawa Senators, who had lost both starter Craig Anderson and backup Robin Lehner to injury.

From there, he went on an absolutely unreal tear, winning 20 games in 24 appearances (and only losing once in regulation) to singlehandedly bump the Senators into a postseason berth.

It was baffling to just about everyone, including Hammond; at the time, he said he’d never had a stretch of hockey like it. And for all intents and purposes, he looked like a guy who should have had just a few more losses peppered in there.

His success has yet to be replicated again, as he’s fallen absurdly short of the bar he set for himself in each of the subsequent seasons. But just as Jonathan Bernier has seen his game stabilize under the new goaltending coach in Colorado, Hammond seems to have some new magic being worked - because he’s back, and he’s officially setting records to keep his team in the playoff hunt one day at a time. No, literally:

Sunday is a potential elimination game for Colorado, but it’s worth asking for a second game in a row: can Hammond rekindle some of his 2015 magic to keep the team alive?

It’s behind a paywall, but I figured this might be a step up in quality from whatever the hell Kizla wrote this time. [The Athletic Denver]

Speaking of staying alive, the Avalanche have now outlasted four teams (and counting) in the postseason! First, Southern California dished up some quality trash on the ice to sweep up:

Then, the Minnesota Wild gave Bruce Boudreau heartburn again, as they were eliminated on Saturday:

Which, if you care about Minnesota and their mind-numbingly textbook style of hockey, here’s a well-reasoned argument that some have made that the Wild were given unrealistic expectations this season. [Hockey Wilderness]

Now, though, there’s another team that’s headed for Phoenix a golf course somewhere, as the New Jersey Devils were ousted 4-1 at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

If we’re being completely honest with ourselves, the fact that New Jersey even snuck a win there was more than any of us really could have asked for, especially after we saw the first few goals that Keith Kinkaid gave up. Still, in the bizarre game of on-ice Survivor, the Avalanche really are left hanging with the big boys now.

The NHL dot com also did something pretty fun on Saturday, by the way, and let William Douglas of The Color Of Hockey do a guest post on the players of color who have been making an impact during the postseason. []

If you don’t already know much about Douglas and his site, it’s well worth checking out. He does an excellent job of highlighting the many impressive persons of color that are involved in hockey at nearly every level, including the NWHL, youth, coaching, broadcasting, and journalism - all while providing an important perspective on their struggles and perceptions. The Shadow League does something similar across all the major sports, but what Douglas puts out is so uniquely hockey-oriented that it stands out as an entity all its own. I’ve learned more about players of color from him than I’ve learned from all other media outlets combined (which, while it also says something uncomfortable about the other media outlets, is a testament to what Douglas does so well).

Meanwhile, this series didn’t end on Saturday (as many had predicted it might), but man did it ever continue to be exactly what people expected:

The disaster that is the Boston-Toronto series, quite frankly, seems to be unparalleled this postseason.

Finally, some good has come out of something very difficult to discuss.

Craig Custance of The Athletic Detroit wrote a story (unlocked to the public) a while back about Ken Daniels, the Red Wings play-by-play announcer, and the death of his son at the hands of drugs and the rehab clinics that ruined his chances at recovery.

Recently, he furthered the conversation on the topic with Daniels by having him on The Full 60 Podcast, where he continued to discuss the problems with a rehab community in Florida that gets addicts just clean enough - but also just reliant enough - to keep them coming back for more, until eventually they’re out of money and out of time.

Now, ESPN has picked up the story and spread it even further. Here’s the piece they put out recently, which resulted in Daniels getting the chance to meet with lawmakers to discuss how these kinds of problems in rehab facilities can become better regulated. [ESPN]

Thank you, by the way, for the kind words yesterday ahead of my race - both directly and via the comment section! 3,965th overall feels a lot better when I remind myself that there were 24,000 people running (and, you know, the whole charity aspect).