Oct 11, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter (20) controls the puck under pressure from Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene (9) in the third period at the Pepsi Center. The Wild won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
The day has arrived for the Colorado Avalanche and their fans. A win tonight over the Minnesota Wild and the Avalanche move to within four points of the final playoff spot, currently held by the Wild, with 19 games to go. It would still be an uphill climb but a win would mean more meaningful games for the Avalanche. It can’t be just a win either, it has to be a win in regulation. The Avalanche must get the two points without the Wild picking up a point with an overtime loss.
A loss tonight would put the Avalanche eight points behind the Wild and that would only be half of the problem. In addition to trying to catch the Wild, there are three other teams between the Avalanche and the last playoff spot. Overcoming an eight point lead with 19 games to go would be almost impossible by itself, it is impossible with so many other teams in the mix.
If you don’t believe me assertion that the season is on the line tonight versus the Wild, then maybe you will believe Head Coach Patrick Roy. Roy was on 104.3 The Fan on Thursday and had this to say when asked if he thought the season rides on the two games this weekend?
"“I think it does.”"
The Avalanche won the first of those two games with a gutsy comeback win over the Dallas Stars on Friday night. They were down 3-1 and 4-3 in the third period, and came back to grab a 5-4 win in a shootout. That win was as big as the game with the Wild will be tonight. The Stars are one of those teams fighting for the last playoff spot and the Avalanche jumped ahead of them with that win.
So what has to happen for the Avalanche to get the season saving win over the Wild? The first thing is obvious, they have to score a goal. The Avalanche have not scored a goal versus the Wild this season and haven’t beaten them since game five of the first-round playoff series last April.
Secondly, the Avalanche must score first tonight and play with the lead. The Wild are tough to play against when the score is tied, they are even tougher to play against when they have a lead. In other words if the Wild have a two goal lead tonight, the Avalanche will not be walking off of the ice with a 5-4 win.
Last but certainly not least, the stars for the Avalanche have to show up in a big way tonight. The season is on the line and it’s up to players like: Gabriel Landeskog, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Jarome Iginla and Nathan MacKinnon to lead them to victory.
The calendar says it’s only February 28th but it might as well be game seven in April for the Avalanche. A win and they get to keep playing meaningful games, a loss and it’s time to start looking ahead to next season.
No pressure though!