My dearest Avs,
Congratulations on the spectacular season. 112 points and third in the league? Are you kidding me? If someone had told me last September where you'd be finishing I'd never have believed them. That was one for the record books, literally (double literally.) And there are some real awards on the line now. Nathan Mackinnon is a shoe in for the Calder, Ryan O'Reilly should have the same chances with the Lady Byng, Semyon Varlamov has the honor of even being nominated for the Vezina (and really should have taken the Hart), and if Patrick Roy doesn't take home the Jack Adams then I am going to go on a murderous rampage. And I'm only sort of joking about that.
Before the season started nobody thought you would have the regular season that you did. Not these assholes, or this guy, or these people, or this guy, or these people, and the list goes on, and on, and on, and on, etc. Even the biggest Avalanche fans had a lot of questions. And I'll be honest, my expectations weren't very lofty either. But I was overjoyed when you decided to draft Mackinnon instead of Jones (like so many people here wanted you to do), and I was even happier when Patrick Roy was announced as head coach. A lot of people had reservations about Roy. He had never coached in the NHL before and that was concerning, especially when seasoned coaches like John Tortorella and Lindy Ruff went on the market last year. I was expecting a wildcard spot in the playoffs, maybe.
But I was optimistic, even if cautiously so. And then you guys flew out of the gate and blew everyone away. You won your first six games before losing to the Unmentionables, and then won six more. All season long you never had a losing streak of more than 3 games, you were only shut out once (and by the very, very good Bruins at that), and you beat every other team in the league at least once. Those are amazing facts, they are something to be proud of.
Despite all this success, people put you down all season long. They called you lucky, said you were overachieving, said you rode your goaltender (and yes, he carried the team many times but our offense was nothing to shake a head at), and that he was playing over his head. A lot of advanced statistics were pulled out of people's butts, and time and time again you showed them that those stupid statistics don't matter. The entire season people asked, "when is their luck going to catch up with them?", "when are they going to slow down?", "when are the wheels finally- and inevitably- going to come off this bus?" But that never happened. You were consistently good, even with periods of not being great, and with an excellent push at the end of the season (through some very difficult teams) you ended up at the top of your division. I don't think one person saw that coming, and I personally had thought it might never come again. Yes the Blues had to collapse a little for you to cement it, but fuck the Blues. I mean that with my whole heart.
And now comes the hard part. Everyone was so excited for the playoffs. It was tangible, it was electric. The entire city of Denver seemed to get into it and they lit up the capital in burgundy and blue. They hung team banners across Larimer Square. There were countless video montages and commercials and new segments before the games. Everyone was thinking Why Not Us?
I can't say too much about it, it's still too soon, and I'm just too heartbroken. You did not look like the same team in the playoffs, key injuries or not. What I dreaded is what happened- you gave people a reason to discount your regular season success when that's something that can't be discounted. You should have been better. You really should have been better considering your opponent. Flaws that were covered up in the regular season became apparent. The playoffs are a whole different ballgame and you saw that- most of you for the first time.
There's no other way to put it, the blue line is weak. Although Erik John showed that he's the franchise defensemen we had hoped he'd be, and Jan Hedja had a great season as well, there's a lot of inexperience and there's a lot of room for improvement. Moves have to be made in the off season, especially concerning our D. And Paul Stastny and Ryan O'Reilly really, really, really need to be resigned. I swear to god if Stastny isn't then I will riot in the streets. I said I'd go on a murderous rampage if Roy doesn't win the Adams, well, you won't want to see what happens if Stastny isn't resigned.
For countless years now I've wanted to watch an Avs game in May, and this year I almost had the chance. I was one day short. But I'm not mad- well I'm not that mad considering four leads were given up in game seven against the FREAKING WILD- I'm proud of the team for what they accomplished this season. Doing what nobody thought they'd do. Even at their hottest, real Avs fans knew that this was not the team that was going to go all the way to the cup. Not even close. But now we have hope for the future. Hope that Lord Stanley could be will be raised in this city before we're passing on our old jerseys to our children's children.
Get ready for predictions that Roy and Mack's second year will entail a sophomore slump. But I don't believe it, I refuse to believe it. Why Not Us?
Thanks for everything guys.