The uncatchable Colorado Avalanche
“There is a creature alive today . . .
It lives to kill; a mindless eating machine.
It will attack. And devour. Anything.
It is if God created the Devil and gave him . . .
This is not a film from 1975. This is a hockey team from 2022. Within the next two weeks, give or take a day, the Colorado Avalanche will sink their collective teeth into a Stanley Cup.
Like the above-mentioned monster shark in Jaws, Colorado is quite simply a leviathan.
OK. Enough for now with the far-reaching analogies. Fact is, this Avalanche team has proven – since the playoffs kicked off – to be the best team on ice. Whenever the final begins and whether it’s the dark horse Rangers or those Stanley Cup two-timers from Tampa Bay, Colorado has to be considered an overwhelming favourite.
The Avs are most certainly the NHL’s deepest. Just take a look at how well the team performed in the bulk of Game 3 and all of Game 4 in wiping the slate clean of the Edmonton Oilers. There was no Nazem Kadri, the team’s second-most dangerous and important forward, no Samuel Girard on the blueline and no Darcy Kuemper, the club’s No. 1 netminder.
Like the great white (oh great, here we go again), doesn’t seem to matter how many barrels you fire into them, the Avs have consistently resurfaced. Through the significant hits, Colorado found a way.
Have to tip your hat to the work put in by not only the guys on ice but the guys upstairs as well. The club added significant support during the trade deadline in acquiring Josh Manson (and fellow stalwart defenceman Devon Toews two years previous) and Artturi Lehkonen.
A few years back (2018) Colorado signed free agent Pavel Francouz from Europe. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? Edmonton surely has by now.
General manager Joe Sakic was the mind behind bringing both Kadri, Valeri Nichushkin and Kuemper in as well.
Make no mistake though, and I know you won’t, this is Nathan MacKinnon’s team. He’s the motor here, plain and simple.
Did he outplay Connor McDavid last round? That’s debatable because MacKinnon has such a juggernaut of support beside him (we haven’t even mentioned Cale Makar yet). McDavid had a wobbly Leon Draisaitl, the polarizing Evander Kane and a worn-down, injured Darnell Nurse.
Not a lot there against a highly functioning group.
So, the Avalanche swim forward and assertively, but unlike Jaws (and one-more-time folks!), they’re not about to blow up come the credit roll.
Just keep the pressurized scuba tanks away.
THOUGHT, SEEN AND HEARD: Never heard the reason why Kevin Bieksa was off the HNIC broadcast for a spell. Whatever. He was definitely missed. Bieksa brings it all – edge, humour, energy and detail . . . Kind of wish Brian Burke (now with Pittsburgh’s front office) was still popping off on the panel. Bieksa told The Athletic that he does too: “I miss Burkie. It’s felt like too long now since he hasn’t been with us. So, we still talk and it’s funny. We can tell he watches our show because he’ll chime in. We have group texts, and every once in a while, Burkie will chime in, critiquing one of us or making fun of one of us. So, I know he’s still watching.” . . . Watching Cale Makar is like, yeesh, this guy’s on a different level. Reminds one of a vigorous Erik Karlsson in his heyday . . . NHL draft goes July 7-8 in Montreal where all eyes are on ‘likely’ top pick Shane Wright who’ll go to the hometown Habs. At No. 2, pundits agree that Juraj Slafkovsky (Slovakian winger) is also likely to go, that to New Jersey. Slafkovsky skated with Devils forward Tomas Tatar for the national team: “I told [the Devils] I know Tatar and they asked me, ‘What did he say?’ And it was all good things,” he told NJ.com . . . Slafkovsky’s favourite NHL player? Auston Matthews. Thought you’d like to hear that . . . Do the Ottawa Senators trade or hold? GM Pierre Dorion holds the 7th-overall selection and speculation is he’s listening to offers for the pick . . . If he holds, Dorion could be looking at either Saginaw (OHL) defenceman Pavel Mintyukov or Finland forward Joakim Kemell, writes NHL.com.