Gazette columnist Paul Klee’s three quick observations from Colorado’s 5-0 loss to the Nashville Predators at Pepsi Center on Sunday:
1. It's all over except the handshakes... and now we have handshakes. This was the Predators squad everyone living outside of Colorado expected to see. The Predators bullied the Avalanche in Game 6 like the hockey world believed they would bully the Avalanche in Games 1 through 5. Nashville punched the gas early and never let up. It was 2-0 before Andrew "The Hamburglar" Hammond could find his feet. (The crowd began tossing hamburgers onto the ice after the second period.) Our loyal and much appreciated readership won't like this, but it was Public Enemy No. 1 who set the tone for Nashville. P.K. Subban and the Preds' ballyhooed blue line put on a defensive clinic in Game 6. Nathan MacKinnon will be seeing yellow sweaters in his sleep tonight. Welp, the Avalanche run was fun while it lasted. But there will be no return to Smashville for Game 7.
2. The Avalanche can only kick themselves after this one. Two careless turnovers led to the first two goals for Nashville. (The third was a softie allowed by Hammond.) It says here the Avs were a bit too juiced for Game 6 — a departure from their previous games this postseason, when the Avs have been dutifully prepared and focused in the first period. Not this time. The Predators skated two players — sometimes even three — at Nathan MacKinnon to make the chief scoring threat a mere bystander. It was 4-0 with 11:20 still left in the second period of the only game that wasn't a game. The Avs are 0-3 when faced with a 3-1 deficit in a playoff series.
3. The question moving forward: was "The Hamburglar" a figment of our postseason imagination, or a viable option going forward? The Avs soon should be goalie hunting. With Semyon Varlamov breaking down and Jonathan Bernier entering free agency, the answer might not be in the building. It's a bright future for the Avalanche. There's no way around it. With the bulk of the key players 15-or-younger — from Gabriel Landeskog to Nathan MacKinnon to Mikko Rantanen and all their buddies — there is great promise heading into this offseason. But they need a goalie. Bad.