Besides lifting the Cup what was your favorite moment?
Jacob: You could ask me this question every day for the next month and I might give you a different answer each time, but for now I have to say Darren Helm’s buzzer beater against the Blues in Game 6. With all the baggage the Avalanche had in the second round, it was hard not to think “here we go again” after they blew a 3-0 lead in Game 5 as well as two separate one-goal leads in the final 5 minutes of that game, and as soon as Helm’s shot hit the back of the net in Game 6, it felt like the last 3 years of anguish and frustration just melted away in an instant.
Ezra: What a tough question! I leaped out of my seat and dropped my laptop I was taking notes on for the Game 6 Recap when Artturi Lehkonen beat Andrei Vasilevskiy for the second goal, so I think I gotta go with that - Colorado hadn’t held a lead within a game since Game 3, and taking that lead made winning the Cup feel truly inevitable for the first time all night. And then a close second is when I picked up my laptop and it wasn’t broken or anything.
Jackie: Nazem Kadri’s heroic overtime goal to win Game 4 in his first game back after rushing his recovery from thumb surgery was pretty much as storybook as it gets. Every goal to win a game in overtime is exciting but that one was extra sweet as it put the Avalanche one win away from the Stanley Cup. The additional drama with the puck getting stuck and only Bowen Byram knowing it was in was fun, the part about Tampa whining it was too many men was not fun, however.
Connor: There are so many to choose from, it’s incredibly hard to pick a single moment. Nazem Kadri getting a hat trick against the Blues was so special though, especially after everything he’d dealt with. Nobody, regardless of whether they’re a hockey player or an ordinary person who isn’t well-known, should have to face racism and death threats. But he had to deal with that with the entire world watching and talking about it. To come back and play so well shows the kind of person he is.
Evan: This might be a real underrated choice here, but I thoroughly enjoyed Game 2 against the Edmonton Oilers. I was lucky to be in the building for this one, and it might’ve been the best performance of the postseason. After a full 60 minutes of action, nothing was given to the Oilers and that truly then was the moment I fully believed this team would go all the way. Even shorthanded of Darcy Kuemper, it was spectacular to spectate.
Eddie: There wasn’t a moment in any win they didn’t fill me with joy, so it’s hard to pick just one, but I do so I’ll go with Game 1 of the Finals. The atmosphere surrounding the game hours before puck drop and hours after the game had been completed was unlike anything I had experienced before, I almost cried during the Avs pregame ceremony. The game itself wasn’t too shabby either. A tight game in score that the Avs had thuroughly out played the Lightning in gave enough stress and excitement without real nerves seeping through. Then to cap it off with and Andre Burakovsky OT goal that made me drop to one knee and pump my fist made the game so memorable.
What was the biggest hurdle the Avalanche had to overcome?
Jacob: Expectations. No one out west could touch the Avalanche all year, and across the last two seasons including the playoffs, the Avalanche have won 70% of their games against the Western Conference, so the bare minimum expectation for this season was a Stanley Cup Final appearance. Not only did the Avalanche make good on that bare minimum (and then some), but they made it look easy, absolutely dominating the west and only being outplayed in one game en route to the Stanley Cup Final.
Ezra: Andrei Vasilevskiy! Let’s tip our caps to that guy for a minute, he was exceptional in games three to six, but it was not just his actual play that they had to beat - the legend of elimination game Vasy had to be in everyone’s heads, especially MacKinnon’s since he couldn’t beat the guy clean all series despite putting up league record shot attempt numbers. Until he did in Game 6, and set up Lehkonen for the game winner too.
Jackie: Maybe it’s cliché but injuries and having the depth to overcome them was very important. The Avalanche were fortunate to come into the postseason healthy plus earned rest with two series sweeps but by the end was still a war of attrition plus guys such as Kadri, Nichushkin, Cogliano and Burakovsky who played through ailments which would have sidelined them weeks. I also believe gaining the right focus and mental fortitude was a big hurdle as well.
Connor: I think switching off from the media and the fans and just keeping the focus on the next game. We were all looking ahead, which is completely understandable. But for a team you can only think about that one game in front of you, because that’s what matters at that moment. I’m sure all the players privately thought about what winning the cup might be like, how could they not. But they couldn’t get distracted by what ifs, when every couple of days they had a huge game to play. So just keeping their mindset on the cup being the ultimate goal, but whatever game they had to play next being the most important thing in the moment. It must be tough, with so many people watching.
Evan: Similar to Jacob, the expectations were a massive hurdle to overcome. The season started with the all-too-familiar question of “will they make it past the second round?” Then it became “how will they handle Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl?” Pretty handily if you ask me. Finally, it was “how will they handle a Tampa team that’s on the verge of a three-peat?” They blew them all out of the water and climbed the mountain.
Eddie: Themselves. We saw multiple times throughout the playoffs the team that posed the biggest threat to the Avalanche, was the Avalanche. There were games, like Game 6 against St, Louis, where the other team may have gotten shutout if ti weren’t for mistakes from the Avs. It seemed like time and time again the Avs had the puck end up in the back of their net due to big mistakes they made that the other team capitalized on.
How did you watch and/or celebrate the victory?
Jacob: At home with my family. I went to most of the playoff games at home and DNVR Bar for most of the road games, so it was nice to be able to just hang out on the couch for once during this entire run with the people I love and not worry about being incredibly stressed out in public.
Ezra: I take extensive notes for my recaps so I had to watch alone at home, but I texted my dad and a few friends between periods to share the stress and the joy. And I got to edit the recap and relive the game while watching the Cup presentation ceremony - what a fun ride!
Jackie: Same as the 2001 Cup victory, in solace at home with my husband watching the celebration on the couch beside me.
Connor: I live in England so it was actually the middle of the night for me. I was tuned in to the radio broadcast, which is always fantastic, and I was chatting with people on Twitter.
Evan: I was fortunate enough to be at Ball Arena for the watch party with a friend. It was bedlam and the best environment I’d ever been in. Everyone was loving life in the parking lot leaving and fireworks exploding all around downtown. Best $20 I’ve spent in my life!
Eddie: I’m a very superstitous person so I spent every away game of the run at the DNVR Bar, I don’t know how me and Jacob didn’t run into eachother at some point though, so Game 6 was no different. In the moments following the victory I did a lot of screaming and hugging and then spent all my money on champion merch before celebrating with a few people from the DNVR Avalanche podcast.
What would you do on a day with the Stanley Cup?
Jacob: Take it to every hockey rink in the state of Colorado that I could during the day to celebrate with the litany of hockey die-hards in this state, and then spend the night walking around downtown Denver showing it off and drinking Colorado-brewed beer out of the Cup.
Ezra: Ok so first I’d make it an incredible breakfast burrito because you gotta start the day with a hearty breakfast. Then we’d go to the beach and hang out in the sand for a while, but don’t worry I’d make sure the Cup had enough sunscreen. Lunch would be a deli turkey club sandwich, and then we’d spend the afternoon filming a buddy comedy where the Cup and I are on a road trip trying to get our old band back together because we’re on a mission from god. Dinner would be a nice steak, and dessert? I eat the Cup, because it truly is the sweetest thing.
Jackie: I feel like the Cup needs to go on top of a mountain in Colorado so I’d take it for a ride up one of the famous peaks such as Mt. Elbert, Pikes Peak or one of my favorites Aspen Mountain. I’d indulge by eating one of my favorite desserts out of the Cup, too.
Connor: I would definitely take it to visit my family and friends. If I was in Denver I’d bring it around the city to visit all the people I know who have probably never got to see it or hold it. It would be cool to give them that opportunity and celebrate together.
Evan: Oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to begin! I think I’d parade it around Fort Collins and CSU where I go to school before bringing it to the lovely folks at the Budweiser Events Center, home of the Colorado Eagles. I’d take it through all the lovely construction down I-25 and down to my neighborhood in East Denver to celebrate with family and friends the incredible achievement. Finally, I’d end the night with a little parade through downtown myself and end with a wonderful dinner somewhere downtown and have a great date night with the Cup.
Eddie: Somehow I have never even had this cross my mind, but I think I have a good idea of what I’d do. I would probably have my family and friends come see the Cup to start the day and maybe have my dogs eat out of it. Similar to Jacob I would take the cup to some of the rinks where I grew up playing and hopefully give some kids a chance to take some pictures with it. Towards the end of the day I would take it to a Rapids game, which I know Evan will appreciate, and parade it around there and maybe take it into the locker room for the players to see. To wrap the day I’d probably have a hearty late night meal of instant ramen out of it with some Mountain Dew on the side and then probably watch Miracle, the greatest hockey movie ever.