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Twitter Tuesday: A pensive reflection on the decade that was

The 2010’s for the Avalanche, a fear of collapse and the Colorado Eagles

St Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche
My favorite Colorado Avalanche moment of the decade. Game 82. April 7, 2018.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

We made it everyone. The year of 2019 has come and gone, and as the world ushers in the turn of a new era, we can look back with pensive reflection on how much we — and the world — has changed over the course of the last 10 years.

A lot can happen in 10 years’ time. Some of us have fallen in and out of love, met future and current spouses, friends and companions, maybe some have started families; we’ve lost loved ones; we’ve cried; we’ve laughed; but most of all we’ve lived and we’ve survived. There are very few constants in life and when you look back on a whole 10 years of your life, you begin to realize that very fact.

And one of those few constants, however, in all our lives — at least in this little community here at MHH — is our mutual adoration of the Colorado Avalanche.

For the team, much has changed over the years, as well. The decade started with a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 2, 2010, a nail-biter of game in which Colorado scored the game-winner with less than a minute to play in the third period thanks to a goal by T.J. Galiardi, with the primary assist going to Milan Hejduk. Remember those guys?

The head coach of the Avs was Joe Sacco and the captain of the team was Adam Foote. Coincidentally, Colorado’s first season of the 2010’s would end in a playoff series to the San Jose Sharks, the same team that would end the Avalanche’s final playoff series of the decade.

Starting with that Jan. 2 win over Columbus, the Avalanche has gone 363-343-79 in the regular season up to the final day of 2019. Four playoff appearances, three head coaches, one of the best season performances in the modern NHL and one of the worst. It’s been quite the decade for the Avalanche, with its ups-and-downs, triumph and tribulation, wins and losses — a fitting representation of life in a decade.

So here’s to you, 2010’s. And bring it on, 2020’s.

But I digress. And for the final time of 2019, I present to you Twitter Tuesday:

I don’t think we need to worry about a similar collapse from this iteration of Avalanche than we did in the Roy-era of 2013-14. This team has proven its mettle in the postseason under the Jared Bednar regime.

If you look at last year’s team, as compared to this year’s squad, I think we’d all agree that the 2019-20 Avs is decidedly a stronger group. That said, in theory, this year’s team should be able to go the distance. And when you look at the Vegas odds or what national pundits have to say about this Avs team, I think most agree this is a team that could go the distance.

But like we saw in the 2014 playoffs, as you’re referring to, anything can happen in the playoffs. I think we’re seeing a lot of similar characteristics as to what we saw with Roy’s team. That is, an impressive offense. Roy’s 2013-14 Avs finished with the most 245 goals and the league’s best goals-scored per game (2.99). This season, the Avs are on pace for right around 290 goals and are averaging a league-best 3.59 goals per game at the halfway mark of the season.

In that sense, there are a lot of similar characteristics. I think the main difference is the superior depth this year’s team has versus the 2014 team. For the first time, perhaps all decade, Colorado has very, very solid depth that could — and should — go the distance.

The Avs haven’t really needed to comeback in a game. And that’s a good thing. For the most part, the team is usually defending a lead. That said, they haven’t had to pull their goalie all that much. In fact, Colorado has only had to defend an empty net eight times this season, the fewest of any team in the NHL.

But to answer your question, no, the Avalanche hasn’t scored when they’ve pulled the goalie. They’re one of three teams to unsuccessfully cash in on the empty-net “advantage,” joining the Carolina Hurricanes and Anaheim Ducks in that regard.

Writer’s note: It was asked in the comments of last week’s Twitter Tuesday if people who don’t have a Twitter account can ask questions for these weekly mailbags. It’s really something I hadn’t thought about, but yeah, the more the merrier!

If you’d like to ask a question, and you’re not in the Twittersphere, you can ask below in the comments of the latest Twitter Tuesday post. Use the hashtag #TwitterTuesday so I can search for it and I’ll answer them in the following week’s mailbag!

For the Colorado Eagles, the veteran additions have really been the only ones consistently producing for the team. That’s unfortunate, because you’d obviously like to see more production from the Avs prospects, i.e., Martin Kaut, Shane Bowers, A.J. Greer, Nick Henry, etc., but that hasn’t really happened yet.

Six out of the top-10 scorers for the Eagles are on NHL contracts with the Avalanche. Only one of which, however, was drafted by Colorado, and that’s Conor Timmins, who is the No. 10 scorer out of the top-10 I am referring to. Only he and Logan O’Connor are the ones really producing out of the homegrown prospects.

That said, AHL Colorado was able to do so well while the Avs were depleted and calling-up Eagles because of those veterans. Jacob MacDonald and T.J. Tynan are tied for the team lead in points, despite the latter only playing 18 games, as he was also one of the call-ups that stepped in for the Avs back in November. Erik Condra, another offseason addition, isn’t too far behind. So, yes, the offseason additions are certainly making the difference and it’s one of the reasons the Eagles have won seven straight and are sitting pretty at third place in the Pacific Division with a 17-10-3 record.

I spoke at the beginning of the season with Eagles head coach Greg Cronin about determining usage on the team. He told me that the Avs have prospects they want the Eagles to focus on, i.e., your Kaut’s and your Bower’s. The Avalanche aren’t really concerned about how a guy like Jacob MacDonald or Dan Renouf is doing. They’re not going to be wearing an Avs jersey and they’re just providing veteran depth for their young AHL players. Which, don’t get me wrong, is a very important role.

What I’m trying to say is those veteran additions haven’t really made an impact on the usage of the Avs big-name prospects. The Bowers and the Kauts will always play solid minutes really regardless of their performance. The Avs want film on those guys and they’ll get their film, for better or for worse.

As for the two players you mentioned, who are objectively the Avs top-two forwards (both first-round picks), it’s a little unfair to judge their respective season because of their health issues this year. Both have just returned from respective upper-body injuries that sidelined Bowers for about three weeks, and Kaut for roughly six. The latter only played seven games before he was knocked out of the lineup with a concussion. He failed to record a point in those seven games but has tallied two goals and a pair of assists in his eight games back. For Bowers, he’s notched three goals and seven points in the eight games since his three-week absence.

For both of the aforementioned, it seems their turning a corner heading into the new year.

More questions, comments or concerns? Hit me up on Twitter anytime @0ffScottFree. See you next Tuesday!