Colorado Avalanche: 2018-19 Season a Success Even With Playoff Loss

Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
Colorado Avalanche (Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images) /

What an incredible 2018-19 season the Colorado Avalanche have just completed. They explored the extremes of boom and bust and ultimately did themselves proud.

The loss to the San Jose Sharks in a game seven hurts. The offsides that waved-off the tying goal hurts more. You hate it, as a fan, player or coach, the feeling that your fate is in the hands of the referees. We say over and over again that it’s never the fault of officiating, don’t put yourself in those positions, etc. What we’ve seen though is that in the second round of the playoffs, there’s a lot of parity at play.  The Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks were evenly matched. The games were close.  From that perspective, it’s hard to overlook egregious calls that alter games.

There’s plenty of evidence, video and photographic that Gabriel Landeskog was touching the blue line when the puck…..

You know, this has been debated and studied ad infinitum, the Avalanche got a raw deal and their season has ended.

That takes nothing away from the incredible ride that the season was. They jumped out of the gates so strong, in contention for the President’s Trophy until just before the All-Star break. They had a mid-season swoon that threatened to keep them from the playoffs. With a resurgent offensive game and riding Philipp Grubauer, their suddenly hot goalie, the Avs edged their way into the postseason, taking the final spot on the second-to-last day of the season.

That surge carried the Avs to an easier-than-it-should-have-been first round playoff win over the Calgary Flames and sealed this squad as one of Colorado’s finest.  Minus the ’96 and ’01 championship teams, this one has been the most fun. Not necessarily the best, that’d be so hard to work out, particularly since there is a pre-lockout version and a post-lockout version of the Avs that little resemble each other.

So, let’s salute this team that provided us such entertainment.  Between the Avs, Nuggets and Rockies, there’s a playoff buzz in Colorado that’s generating a ton of excitement and it has nothing to do with the Broncos. It’s a big time and it’s given Colorado sports fans the chance to flex a little bit. If anyone was witness to the Avalanche playoff crowds, they know that flex starts with the Avs. Nathan MacKinnon is not only the best Avalanche player, he may well be the best player in the NHL. Mikko Rantanen is that perfect Fin, combining magic hands and strength in a sometimes unstoppable package.  Rantanen led the NHL in scoring for much of the season. Gabriel Landeskog is the consummate Captain and leader and is perfect for Colorado. He’s also a talented beast, casually dropping 75 points despite being in Mac and Rantanen’s shadows. Landeskog’s return from a shoulder injury seemed to ignite the playoff run. Philipp Grubauer had an up-and-down season that ended way up and perhaps usurped the top goalie spot from Semyon Varlamov going forward.

There are stories to be told all up and down this Colorado roster, including a great season from Tyson Barrie and Carl Soderberg and a solid sophomore campaign from Alexander Kerfoot. A resurgent year from Erik Johnson on the blue line helped, as did Nikita Zadorov‘s +19 rating, good for second best on the roster. The story of the playoffs though was the rise of Cale Makar from Hobey Baker winner to NHL roster to scoring his first goal on his first shot all in the span of three days, Makar had one of those runs they make movies out of.

It was a season of surprises, of highs and lows but it was possibly the Avs best since guys named Ray Bourque, Patrick Roy, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg wore the burgundy and blue.  Good things ahead for the Colorado Avalanche.

We’re ready.