While the sting of another second round postseason lingers and a busy offseason looms on the horizon, a few standout moments should be celebrated for the successful 2021 Colorado Avalanche season that was exciting, compelling and a little exhausting.
Bowen Byram’s NHL introduction
The highly anticipated debut of the Avalanche’s prize fourth overall pick paid early dividends when Bowen Byram scored his first NHL point on this fantastic play and pass to Mikko Rantanen. Unfortunately he was only limited to 19 games this season due to injury but what he was able to do in just his second game should serve as reminder of the talent and ability to impact the game this now 20-year old has. Byram might have been limited in games played but not on the ice as he averaged over 17 minutes per game and will look to build on that beginning next season.
The outdoor game at Lake Tahoe
The 2021 season will always be remembered for this picturesque outdoor setting with no crowd in the stands to worry about which was set right on the shore of Lake Tahoe. Yet the event wasn’t without fault as it saw a lengthy sun delay due to deteriorating ice conditions. The Avalanche beat Vegas 3-2 in the dark of night after waiting ten hours for the ice to solidify and to commence the second and third periods but it was worth the wait. This was also the debut of the absolutely gorgeous reverse retro Quebec Nordique throwback jerseys.
Winning the President’s Trophy
The task was simple, win the final game in the regular season against the LA Kings and the Avalanche would win the Honda West Division, top seed through the playoffs and the franchise’s third President’s Trophy. After giving up the game’s first score to the Kings it was far from a guarantee but a five-goal second period with contributions from Tyson Jost, Joonas Donskoi, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and the final dagger from Andre Burakovsky sealed Colorado’s fate as the team to beat in the playoffs. Shoutout to goaltender Jonas Johansson for picking up the win in this memorable affair.
Alex Newhook’s first NHL goal
While the Avalanche disposed of the St. Louis Blues in pretty routine fashion in order to move on from the first round of the playoffs, one moment in particular stands out. Newhook chose the perfect moment to get his first tally in the NHL in a pivotal point in Game 3 of that series. This score put the Avalanche up 2-0, ended up the game winning goal in a 5-1 final and gave them a commanding 3-0 series lead after defeating the Blues in their building.
Mikko Rantanen’s overtime winner in Game 2
Unfortunately this is where the fairy tale ends as Mikko Rantanen’s overtime goal to take Game 2, and a 2-0 lead, in the Vegas series would be the last game the Avalanche win this season. That goal gave the team 11 straight victories including a six-game sweep of the playoffs up to that point and Rantanen extended his league-high playoff point streak to 16 games, which would finally get broken in Game 4. Rantanen actually scored a point in every playoff game this season except that Game 4 but it just wasn’t enough to get the team over the hump as they lost in six games to Vegas.