Colorado Avalanche: Big Stretch Run Secures Playoff Spot

Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /

In a season filled with wild swings, the Colorado Avalanche have secured a consecutive appearance in the NHL playoffs.

We couldn’t be happier about being wrong regarding the playoff chances for the Colorado Avalanche.  We were concerned that it looked unlikely that the Avs made a playoff run but turns out it was unfounded.

Well, it was pretty founded but the Avalanche, in true Colorado fashion have rallied to secure that final wild card spot by virtue of a come-from-behind (of course), anxiety inducing win over the visiting Winnipeg Jets.  The Avs fell behind 2-0 in the first before Philipp Grubauer locked the Jets down and didn’t allow another goal.

For the Colorado Avalanche who have been top-heavy on offense all season, it was wonderful to see goals from Tyson Barrie and Carl Soderberg (in the 2nd and 3rd, respectively) drag the Avalanche back to even with the Jets and then Erik Johnson, off a steal and lead pass from Nathan MacKinnon, sealed the deal, won the game at 1:49 of OT and sent the Avalanche to the playoffs for the second straight season.

It was really good to see for and from Johnson who has battled injury in his time in Colorado and while an outstanding blueliner, has never been able to reach his full stride.  It was nice to see it end early, playoff-level overtime is stressful.

Another season-long complaint has been the Avs over-reliance on goaltending,, surrendering far too many shots and quality chances.  After allowing a jaw-dropping 19 shots in the first, the boys in the rad third uniforms gave up just 17 more for the rest of the game.  Normally, Grubauer would earn all the accolades for his post first-period shutout streak but the Colorado defense gets some run for this one.  Beyond the game-winner, Johnson played a fantastic game defensively, with smart play and big hits.

Grubauer posted a .944 save percentage while the Avs dropped 34 shots on Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck (who had the coolest name in the building).  beyond the all-around satisfaction of a win when they desperately needed it, it was really good to see the Avs celebrate their resurrection.  Here’s hoping they can keep this momentum into the first round.

There is one remaining game, A Saturday tilt with the Sharks that has little meaning to San Jose but does have the possibility for Colorado to move ahead of Dallas in the Wild Card standings. A small incentive but the difference in a  first-round matchup with the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks is pretty substantial.  Calgary trails only the Tampa Bay Lightning with 107 points and is on a tear, despite losing to Anaheim on Wednesday.  The Sharks are strong at 99 points but are 2-7-1 in their last 10.

You have to play who’s in front of you but Colorado should have some incentive to overtake the Stars in Saturday’s game.  Dallas plays the Minnesota Wild to close out their season.

Playoff hockey is upon us, one of the greatest sporting spectacles out there and the Avalanche are still alive!