Roy, Avalanche the model for playoff success

Don’t tell the Avs they still have to win 14 more games before hoisting the Stanley Cup.

If you have yet to crawl out from under your rock, I recommend you start tuning in to this bunch. All they’ve done in two playoff games is embarrass a very solid Minnesota club.

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Let’s compare this Avalanche team to the AFC champion Broncos for a minute.

Thursday night during game one, the Avs trailed 4-2 nearly midway through the third period. That’s probably the equivalent of being down two touchdowns with eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

We all remember that dreadful first play from scrimmage for the Broncos’ offense in the Super Bowl. The scoreboard showed 2-0. It wasn’t 20-0, 14-0 or even 7-0. John Fox was a decent drive and Matt Prater field goal away from going on top 3-2 after the awful snap.

Tell me if I’m wrong. But it felt like the Broncos were immediately beat following the safety. Body language from players and coaches showed defeat. Leaders like Peyton Manning and Champ Bailey buckled under pressure.

The Avs? They still played with an obvious swagger and aggression despite difficult odds to overcome. And down 4-3 at the three minute mark, Patrick Roy made the gutsiest call of his coaching career.

Stanley Cup in Hockey Hall of Fame
Stanley Cup in Hockey Hall of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Goalie Semyon Varlamov was pulled to allow the Avs an extra player on the ice. They barraged Ilya Bryzgalov with shot after shot. Erik Johnson then made the play of his life, knocking the puck away from the net, keeping the game a one-score difference.

With 13 seconds left, Paul Stastny propelled the cardiac kids to overtime with a goal.

“You just knew it was gonna happen,” exclaimed Altitude’s Mike Haynes on the broadcast.

The Avs erased a two-goal third period deficit in part thanks to their ‘playing like their hair’s on fire’ attitude. Roy went against conventional wisdom pulling Varlamov early because he had faith in his team.

Fox could learn a thing or two from Roy.

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That said, I don’t think anyone will be successful trying to emulate Nathan Mackinnon. The rookie sensation has embraced postseason pressure, blowing past defensemen nearly every time he touches the puck.

‘Kid Dynamite’ is the best player in hockey right now. And he’s only 18 years old.

Alongside Stastny and captain Gabriel Landeskog, the Avs boast a dangerous scoring line. Just like the rest of the team, they look relaxed.

Manning, Fox and the Broncos couldn’t have been wound any tighter for the Super Bowl.

Trust your team, don’t think too much and play hard for 60 minutes. Those are fairly elementary lessons in sports, but the Avs have made their living off them this season.

They may be rewarded with a Stanley Cup when it’s all said and done.