Tough ending, but bright future
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This is always a tough one to write, when the season has come to a disappointing end and we have to wait four months for training camp to begin.
It sure was a tough way for this Stanley Cup playoff run to end, too, with Nathan MacKinnon getting hurt and the controversial offside that wiped out what would have been a tying goal, along with a furious attempt to send Game 7 to overtime …
But it’s over with a 3-2 loss Wednesday at the SAP Center, sending San Jose to the Western Conference final against St. Louis and the Avalanche to another early offseason.
SJ wins series 4-3
All times Mountain Time
G1 – San Jose 5, Avalanche 2
G2 – Avalanche 4, San Jose 3
G3 – San Jose 4, Avalanche 2
G4 – Avalanche 3, San Jose 0
G5 – San Jose 2, Avalanche 1
G6 – Avalanche 4, San Jose 3 (OT)
G7 – San Jose 3, Avalanche 2
Avalanche fans can take heart in the fact that this team has raised the bar once again and should make plenty of noise in 2019-20 after knocking off the West’s top seed in Calgary in the first round and taking San Jose, which had the second-best record, to the limit in the second round.
They’ll also have the Nos. 4 and 16 picks at the June 21-22 NHL draft in Vancouver.
“I’m going to look back at it as a great season,” captain Gabriel Landeskog told reporters. “We had a lot of fun and (there were) a lot of ups and downs, but the way we battled and the way we were able to play the last month of the regular season and then these last four weeks in the playoffs, I’m real proud of the group that we have. We were counted out numerous times, but I think for us as a group we believed and I think it’s a big step in the right direction.
“It’s a real bright future for this organization, for this hockey team, and I’m excited to be a part of this. We want to win, and we want to be the last team standing, winning that last game of the season. I know there’s a lot of good things in store for this group. We’re still young and guys are going to develop.”
Landeskog, classy as always, said he was to blame after San Jose asked for a review to determine whether he was offside as he was about to enter the bench on a line change when Colin Wilson made it a 2-2 game in the second period.
“Clumsy mistake,” he said. “Going to take the blame for that because I could’ve done a lot of things different.”
Dumb rule, in my opinion. Here’s the NHL explanation:
And here’s Kyle Keefe of Altitude TV:
Coach Jared Bednar wouldn’t discuss the play or the officiating.
“Our season’s over, so it’s tough,” he told reporters. “We set high expectations for ourselves and we came up a little bit short. Our guys worked every day to try and fulfill our expectations of our group. It was a real good series, but they were the better team for too big a proportion of tonight’s game, and they won, and they deserved to win.
“I have to look at our season as a whole and I’m really proud of our guys with the way they played, especially down the stretch and into the playoffs. This is a big step forward for our team.”
One goal for next season will be to make the playoffs, of course, and to secure home ice. Playing Game 7 at the Pepsi Center could have made all the difference, especially when you consider the Avalanche’s record in San Jose -- 3-18-5 in the past 26 games.
"It's obviously nice to take a step as an organization," said MacKinnon, who sustained a sprained right shoulder crashing into the boards early in the first period and returned after being given an injection for pain.
“We felt, especially with how the East was shaking out and with the West as well, that we could have won the Cup this year. It's so disappointing. We truly felt that we could have won everything. It was up for grabs. It was the year of the upset."