The Avalanche played their best. That was the problem.
The Avs’ best wasn’t even close to good enough. They gave it their all. Their all wasn’t sufficient. They were eradicated and terminated Thursday night 6-3 by the Golden Knights.
They were done like a cheap steak at Bugsy and Meyer’s.
For the third consecutive postseason, the Avalanche couldn’t survive the second round.
The Avs didn’t roll, but heads will.
Coach Jared Bednar must go. Bad guy Nazem Kadri never will play another game representing Colorado. Defensemen Samuel Girard and Patrik Nemeth, the turnover twins, must follow.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer will become a free agent, but doesn’t matter. He won’t want to come back, and Joe Sakic won’t want him back.
And the list of gone guys will grow, even if Kroenke & Son are more concerned about a soccer team in London and a football team in Los Angeles than a hockey team in Denver.
Break up the Avalanche after they were broken down by the Knights.
Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman always will have Paris. The Avalanche always will have the Presidents’ Trophy. Bogie and Bergman didn’t end up together, and that trophy is worthless.
What plays in Vegas stays in Vegas. After Game 1 of the series, the Knights of Oval Rink were as formidable as some other previous knights of a round table.
The Avs’ sweep of the Blues and that 7-1 opening-game victory in this series turned out to be a charade. Even with an overtime loss in Game 2, the Knights were completely superior to the Avalanche.
They scored four goals on 16 shots Thursday, then added two more just to sweeten the pot.
Oh, sure, the Avs were more aggressive for much of the evening. As is said traditionally in the NHL, the Avs were playing desperate hockey. They scored the first goal, as they have done throughout the series. They were outshooting the Knights by a 2-1 margin. They were rushing the puck into the Knights’ zone more often and more intense.
But, a 36-year-old goalie stood on the Avalanche’s heads.
How about those Marx Bros. — Marc-Andre Fleury and Mark Stone?
The Avalanche may have shown resolve, but they couldn’t solve Fleury. At one point in the second third period, just after the Knights’ goalie from their inception as an NHL franchise stopped consecutive point-blank shots, Marc and Mark shared a moment of gleaming grins.
It got late early for the Avalanche in its final period of a season that wasn’t supposed to conclude until Colorado celebrated its third Stanley Cup title in franchise history. Instead, the Avs were history when the score become 4-3, then 5-3, then 6-3. Thank goodness it was over by then, and the boisterous sellout crowd could spill out to The Strip and enjoy the Golden Knights and the long night.
The Avs only could slink back to Denver.
Nobody will ever compare these Avs to those 1996 or 2001 Avs, or even the teams that lost honorably to the Wings and the Stars during a 10-year run of success after coming from Quebec City.
This team will be remembered as the Overrated Underachievers.
And Nate MacKinnon is not Sakic or Peter Forsberg yet, and probably never will be.
No matter how hard he tried, and no matter that he had two assists Thursday night, MacKinnon, a Hart Trophy finalist, hasn’t won anything again.
His best shot of the night occurred behind the net at the base of the glass, when he threw a rounder at the enemy, then lost his helmet and his way.
Meanwhile, defenseman Girard probably never get over being goat cheese. Two of his turnovers led directly to Las Vegas goals, and Girard was caught in the act and in front of the net on another Vegas ricochet that verified the Knights would win. After his first error, on the bench, Bednar showed Girard the proof of his guilt on an iPad. He didn’t learn from his mistake.
Bednar missed the morning skate because of coronavirus protocol, but the matter was settled so he could coach Thursday night.
His last game with the Avs.
Bednar won’t return, and neither will Girard and Grubauer, who will be replaced in goal in Colorado — and Kadri, who doesn’t belong after missing the entire series because of stupidity, and several others who will be moved.
And the Avs must keep trying to become the best sometime again in this century. It was not true Thursday night or this season.