For the third year in a row the Colorado Avalanche have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the second round. But this time it hurt the most. It wasn't like two years ago at all. Two years ago they were the 8th seed just happy to make it to the playoffs. Then they completed a gentleman's sweep of the 1st seed Flames. Anything after that was icing on the cake, so losing in the second round wasn't all that bad. Although it still sucked. Then last year was the bubble. Let's be honest. That whole experience sucked. No fans, months off between the end of the regular season and the playoffs, plus all the injuries. It all felt whack. So when the Avalanche lost to the Stars in the second round last year it didn't hurt nearly as much as this year. Although it's not like it didn't hurt. Pretty sure a few tears slipped out after that loss. But I was drunk so not sure. Anyways.
The expectations were sky high this year. The Avalanche were the favorites, or whatever. The boys took home the Presidents Cup for christ's sake. They were the best team in the regular season this year. But they were bounced in the second round, yet again, by the second best team in the league, the Knights. Avalanche fans can't forget that. This team didn't get taken to seven games just to lose to the Canadiens like the Leafs did this year. No, they lost to the only other team that could keep up with them during the regular season. They got bounced by the team that would have won the President's Cup had the Avalanche not won their last game of the year. And even though it hurt like hell to watch the Avalanche get bounced in the second round for the third year in a row it's not all doom and gloom.
Sure it might feel like doom and gloom right now, us Avalanche fans have to wait until October to watch the boys play again. But the future is anything but gloomy. It's as bright as it's ever been. The window for this team to win a Stanley Cup is wide open. Sakic has a lot of work to do this offseason to keep it wide open, but no matter what, this team has the weapons to win it all. Sakic has to resign Landeskog, Makar, Grubauer, and Saad to new contracts all while trying to figure out how to navigate another expansion draft. Hopefully the Seattle Kraken aren't as insufferable as Las Vegas. But Sakic has proved that he's a master of the offseason. Putting together phenomenal teams before the season starts seems to be his speciality. His trade deadline acquisitions this year were soft, Sodenburg and Nemeth were practically useless come playoffs, but there is no reason to believe he's going to drop the ball this offseason and make the team worse.
Plus, Sakic would have to actively try to make this team worse. He's set up the team for long term success with all of his draft picks. The team will be able to replace the living liability that is Patrick Nemeth with Bowen Byram next year, him or Erik Johnson. And lets say that Sakic can't bring back Saad, he can be replaced with either Alex Newhook, Sampo Ranta, or Jean-Luc Foudy. Hell Sakic could even let the Kraken take Kadri in the expansion draft to free up some cap space to resign Saad. Id' much rather have Saad than Kadri. Kadri is awesome and I love him as a person and player, but this is the third time in four years Kadri has watched his team get bounced from the playoffs while he's been suspended. Doesn't matter how good he is if he's getting suspended when you need him the most. And if giving Kadri to the Kraken means the Avalanche can keep Makar and Landeskog then I'm all for it.
Because I'm not even going to harbor the thought that Sakic can't bring back Makar and Landeskog. As for Phillip Grubauer, I don't know man. He is in the running for the Veniza Trophy this year, but honestly his short comings might have been hidden by the Avalanche's ability to limit shots. Once the Avalanche couldn't limit shots against Vegas he looked exposed. Grubauer was phenomenal during the regular season, but when it mattered he couldn't play up to snuff. Obviously the second round loss isn't all on him, but man did he put up a dud in an elimination game. That's when you need your goalie the most. So I don't know if he will be back next season. He's an awesome guy, great teammate, and a good goalie, but if it comes down to it and Sakic has to choose between Landeskog and Makar over Grubauer, I'd take Makar and Landeskog every time. No questions about it. No matter what happens this offseason the Avalanche are set up for success for a long time. It hurts now, but it won't for much longer.
All this pain and misery is only going to make the team stronger and better. If you don't believe me just look at the Lightning. Two years ago they won the Presidents Cup, just like the Avs did this year, and were swept in the first round by a considerably worse team. The very next year the Lightning were hoisting the Stanley Cup. Hell the Lightning have been one of the premier teams in the league for the past five years and they've only hoisted the Cup once in that time frame. My point is it's really fucking hard to win it all in the NHL. This year wasn't the Avalanche's year to win it all, but there is no reason to think it won't happen soon. Remember where this team was just a few short years ago. They were the worst team in the league. Now, they're going to be perennial contenders for The Cup. The bad years are behind us Avalanche fans, it's doom and gloom right now cause of the loss, but the future could not be brighter.