With San Jose 1 point away from eliminating the Avs from playoff contention, we are coasting toward the stop sign that marks the end of the road. Here’s an idea of what we need and why-
- San Jose loses both remaining games in regulation
- Dallas gets no more than 2 points in their remaining 2 games
- Colorado wins both remaining games in regulation or OT (no shootouts)
There is a new category for playoff tiebreakers called “ROW” (Regulation and Overtime Wins). Should two or more teams be tied in points at the end of the year, the ROW category will determine the tiebreaker. Right now, the ROW category has San Jose ahead of the Avalanche by 1! So we need both of our wins (while San Jose is losing) to come into that category in order to leapfrog them. One area Varlamov has been a genius this year is in the shootout, but our best case scenario eliminates shootout wins. Should this nearly impossible scenario play out, the Avalanche will square off in round one of the playoffs with, drum roll please, the Vancouver Canucks, who won the season series against the Avalanche 6-0. But hey, one of those was an overtime game!
This being the case, I think it’s time to reflect on the season for a while, and begin to look forward to October. What are the needs for next year? If history repeats itself, we are in for a new coach. Avalanche brass doesn’t keep coaching around for more than 3-4 years, winning or not. In net, I think Varlamov is a great fit for next season. He has moments of greatness, which, combined with the low standards this season set for next year, provide an easy answer. The nice thing about not making the playoffs is that the following season isn’t filled with preseason expectations of hoisting Lord Stanley’s cup in the spring. Your goal for next year is simple, make the playoffs. I think Varlamov is short in one area, consistency. Other goalies the Avalanche have had in the last, oh, since Roy, have lacked the talent. Semyon Varlamov has the talent to be the guy.
The two areas we must improve are in defense and coaching. Whether it’s a strategy problem, a defensive personnel problem, or a goalie consistency problem (I think it’s a little of all 3), the Avalanche simply gave up too many goals this year. If you’re not a high scoring team, you have to be lights out defensively to compensate. We have the right people in place offensively, and at the right age, we just need some other things to fall into place.