Why not us?
That’s the theme that the Avs coined earlier this season after getting off to a terrific start.
Following an opening night win that featured Patrick Roy pushing down the glass that separated him and Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, the Avs quickly became relevant again in Colorado.
They continued to win despite injuries to Alex Tanguay and P.A. Parenteau. They avoided collapse when their star goaltender Semyon Varlamov dealt with a sexual assault case in December.
And maybe most impressively, the Avs keep winning despite losing their best goal scorer in Matt Duchene.
Could this be the most entertaining Colorado professional sports team we’ve seen in a handful of years?
The Broncos had memorable seasons the last two years. But let’s be honest. As soon as Peyton Manning stepped foot in Dove Valley during March of 2012, Sundays in Denver have been filled with stress and fingernail biting that’s often overshadowed pure fandom.
George Karl led the Nuggets to their best regular season in franchise history a year ago. Even without a superstar, the Nugs were fun to watch. But they never had that “it” factor that typically gets fans truly amped up about a team.
Take a look at the Avalanche roster. It’s a combination of journeymen, role players and young guns that have yet to become household names in the NHL.
Their top five leading scorers of Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O’Reilly, Nathan MacKinnon and Paul Stastny were all drafted by the Avs.
This 2013-14 Avalanche team mirrors the 2007 Rockies.
The Avs were expected to finish at the bottom of the conference once again. The ’07 Rockies had very little appeal in preseason conversation.
Just like the Avs, the ‘Rocktober’ club was primarily built on homegrown products. Todd Helton, Matt Holliday, Garrett Atkins, Troy Tulowitzki and Jeff Francis led a group that refused to lose in much of September and October.
That season, the Rockies’ clubhouse reminded people of a frat house. The players genuinely cared about each other and loved spending time with one another.
It’s unbelievably similar to the Avs, who created a hard hat for the player of the game to wear when interviewed postgame.
There have been all sorts of talk that once this young team has to play a seven-game series against an experienced opponent that the Avalanche season will come to an abrupt end.
Just like manager Clint Hurdle did with the 2007 Rockies, Roy will do with the Avs.
Who cares if the Avs have little playoff experience? No team in the western conference wants to match up with Roy’s bunch.
The ’07 Rockies weren’t even supposed to make the playoffs. But they played their tails off every game because they were young and didn’t know any other way to play.
Look for national analysts to write off the Avs’ Stanley Cup chances immediately.
If the Avalanche happens to lose a series, it’s going to come at the hands of better players, because this team won’t get outworked.
I’ll take Colorado in five games over the Wild.