As every new season begins, there are expectations — for better or for worse — that every team carries with them. Whether coming off a Stanley Cup-winning season or a draft lottery-winning year, expectations are always — well...expected. It’s a part of sports, it’s a part of getting better and it’s a part of a winning mindset. It’s essential.
For the 2019-20 Colorado Avalanche, the expectations are high this season. Much higher. After back to back playoff bound seasons, it’s time to take the next step. Before the 2017-18 season, the Avs had only made a postseason appearance two times out of the previous eight years. Then during the 2017-18 campaign, Colorado won two playoff games. A good first step. Then the following season, last year, the Avalanche won its first playoff series since beating the Minnesota Wild during the 2007-08 playoff run. The Avs then took a tough San Jose Sharks team the distance, losing by one goal in Game 7 and dropping the series. Another nice step. At the very least, the team’s been trending in the right direction recently.
Now what is expected of them this season?
The answer is everything.
“It’s nice to have some pressure. We’re not just the ‘bad Avs’ or whatever anymore. We’re a contender. I think we all want pressure. It’s no fun coming in as an underdog. It got kind of old. The best teams have pressure on them. It feels good.” - Nathan MacKinnon
Pressure is good. Then again, it can be bad, too. Pressure can make diamonds or it can cause infrastructure to crumble. It all depends on the strength of the core. And for the 2019-20 Colorado Avalanche, the core is strong — the strongest it’s been in quite some time. The work GM Joe Sakic has done over the past few seasons has led the Avs to this point right here. You look at the roster, you look at the depth chart and you see a good team. A very good team.
On the outside, in the rest of the hockey community, the expectations are very, very high for Colorado. The hockey world knows this is a dangerous, well-built Avalanche team. Even out in Las Vegas, the bookies and bettors are putting money down on Colorado. The Bovada odds have the Avs with the fifth-best odds to win the Stanley Cup this season.
“For me, the most important [expectations] are internal. I know external expectations are high, but no one is going to put more heat on our team than [us]. A lot of that stays the same [as always]. Whether things are going good or bad, we talk to our team about blocking out the outside noise and focusing on what’s happening within our locker room and rink. That [mentality] doesn’t change this season at all.” - Jared Bednar
From the outside — outside of the relatively close-minded, “my team is the best” mentality of fandom and fanaticism — it appears the rest of the sports world is also taking notice of the Avalanche, and not just its fans and admirers. The Avs are no longer a team competing for a top-5 draft pick. They’re competing for one thing and one thing only.
But can such a young, and largely-inexperienced Colorado team handle the pressure? Well that remains to be seen. Sakic has done all he can in his office by crafting a Cup-worthy roster. Now it’s time for the rest of the team to handle its business on the ice — in their office. And it starts today.
Colorado is no longer a joke in the NHL. They’re no longer the “Bad Avs.” They’re a team with lofty and large expectations. They’re a team trending in the right direction. A team poised for a playoff push. A team destined for glory. Yes, the championship window is officially open in Colorado. Enjoy the breeze.
Go get ‘em, boys.