Avs falter in second round of NHL playoffs, vow to ‘get ready for another go at it’ in ’21-22
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The Colorado Avalanche, despite winning the 2021 Presidents’ Trophy, bowed out in the second round of the NHL playoffs Thursday night after a 6-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6.
“What’s going through my head right now is just disappointment,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. “You see the look on our guys’ faces and how much they want it and how hard they care and how hard they are working and just to come up short, it just hurts. Guys put a long year in of work and commitment and dedication to the team and you don’t get to where you want to go, so it’s disappointing.
“It is not easy to win, and we are learning that. It’s just disappointing. Some guys have been working for it here for multiple years together and just trying to keep taking steps forward. You got to tip your hat to Vegas. It’s a great hockey team and they played real well. They were consistent throughout the series in the way they played, and we just couldn’t get the job done.”
The Avalanche finished the season with 82 points (39-13-4), tied with Vegas at the top of the league standings. Colorado claimed the franchise’s third Presidents’ Trophy and 10th division title since moving to Denver by way of the regulation-win tiebreaker (35-30).
Colorado won the first two outings of the set (7-1 and 3-2 in overtime) but dropped Games 3 and 4 in Las Vegas, falling 3-2 and 5-1, respectively. In Game 5, the Avs lost 3-2 in overtime.
“Looking back on it now and evaluating the series afterwards, obviously Game 2 we got away with a win there where I think probably they were the better team,” said Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog. “Then Game 3 especially, we didn’t play good at all. Game 4, we really competed hard, made mistakes that they scored on, and Game 5, obviously we are in control the whole game. Game 5 is a really strong effort from us, and we make three turnovers, and they score on all three of them. Then tonight, I thought we fought real hard and battled and worked our (butts) off and kept coming back, but a couple bounces go the wrong way and a couple shifts where we are not really engaged and not really focused, they capitalize on.
“But listen, I am real proud of that group in there. Proud of the season we’ve had. Obviously, you are never going to be satisfied, you are never going to be happy until you win that final game of the season.”
Colorado finished with its highest points percentage in franchise history (.732), breaking the previous mark of .720 set in 2000-01.
“Nobody wants just a good regular season and then lose in the second round,” Colorado forward Mikko Rantanen said. “I know all of us want to win and that is what we are pushing for, so right now it is tough to find positives. I know everybody put their heart out there and Vegas was just that much of a better team, 4-2 in the series. Have to give credit to them. All the guys on our team gave their hearts out so can’t really do much else.”
The Avalanche advanced to the second round for the third straight year, its longest streak of making it to the second stage of the postseason since doing so in four straight years from 1999 to 2002.
Avalanche star forward Nathan MacKinnon said going up 2-0 in the series and then losing is heartbreaking.
“I am definitely motivated, and it just sucks losing four in a row to a team,” said MacKinnon. “It felt like last year was our first real chance to win. And this year, I mean I thought we were the best team in the league, but for whatever reason we couldn’t get it together. I am sure in training camp next year we will figure it out and dissect things and come back better.”
Bednar added that the offseason will be one full of finding ways to get over the playoff hump.
“You got to reflect on it and spend some time and put some deep thought into it, not that you are not putting thought into it all year, but there are always things you can learn, there’s always things you got to get better at,” said Bednar. “Individually, myself, our team, our players and then collectively as a group as well, we will identify some of those things and get ready for another go at it.”
Quotes/photo courtesy Colorado Avalanche website
(June 11, 2021)