DENVER — With Game 7 Friday, there will be hockey history.
Or the Avalanche will be history.
Colorado’s sensational series with the Dallas Stars has history written all over it. It has Nathan MacKinnon’s 14-game points streak, the second-longest streak to begin a postseason in NHL history. It has a repeat of history for both teams, the Avs and the Stars, who each played in (and lost) a Game 7 Western Conference semifinal last year. It has this slice of history: The Avs have never come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a series. Never. Hasn't happened.
Hockey history is on the table. The Avs control their own.
“I snapped awake at like 4:30 in the morning before Game 6 ready to play,” Avs defenseman Ian Cole said.
Snooze, you lose: The Avs and Stars’ 48 goals through six games is the second-most in a playoff series in a quarter century of history. Could that have something to do with having five starting goaltenders in the series?
Across America, our history is being torn down, distorted, politicized, painted over, otherwise erased — ensuring we are doomed to repeat our mistakes. Big thanks to the Avs and Stars for the entertainment and welcome distraction.
Their reunion in the Stanley Cup playoffs has awakened some of my favorite sports history — the annual (it felt like) grudge match between the Big D and Little D (you pick) in the playoffs.
The postseason fisticuffs between the Avs and Red Wings were bloodier and more well-documented. But for a hot minute the Stars were public enemy No. 2 around these hills. Between 1999-2006, the Avs and Stars met four times in the playoffs, including the unforgettable Western Conference finals of ’99 and ’00.
Considering hockey history as a whole, the Avs haven’t been here all that long. Still, this will be the Avalanche’s third Game 7 against the Stars. The Stars are 2-0, both wins coming in Dallas.
More history: This is the first Game 7, for any team, that won’t be played on home ice — unless you’re Tyson Jost, who’s from St. Albert, an Edmonton suburb. Home is 15 minutes from the bubble. His family “will be cheering from afar but up close, I guess you could say,” Jost said prior to the postseason.
There will be comparisons between the Avalanche's precarious situation and the Nuggets coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to advance past the Utah Jazz in seven games.
“It’s not over,” Nikola Jokic predicted after Game 3 when faced with a 2-1 deficit.
Joker was right on, but the comparisons are way off. The Nuggets made their own bed with an unprofessional approach to the coronavirus hiatus. Roughly half the roster was late arriving to the NBA bubble. The series against the Jazz never should have gone seven games, and the Nuggets will pay for it against the rested Clippers.
Over on the ice, the Stars are the Avs’ equal. Dallas holds a 5-3-2 edge going back through the regular season — a significant sample size.
The Nuggets defied too much of America’s current default — to give up. CHSAA gave up on fall football and volleyball. (Even Michigan, on Thursday, reinstated fall football. They start in two weeks. It's a bad look, CHSAA.) The Pac-12 gave up on fall sports. (And reportedly is reconsidering its ban on nonconference basketball.) Ja’Wuan James gave up on the Broncos. (After 18 days of practices, the NFL reported four positive COVID-19 tests — total.)
The Nuggets did not give up or give in. Good on them. The Avs have next.
“It’s been a bit of a bizarre series,” veteran forward Nazem Kadri said Thursday.
Bizarre, and a blast.
But enough history.
What does the future hold?
It depends on two men: Thirty-year-old journeyman goalie Michael Hutchinson and Colorado's next superstar, Cale Makar, 21. Hutchinson must limit the Stars to three goals, and Makar must add to his history-making three game-winning goals by a rookie in the playoffs.
In Game 7, Makar gets his fourth — in overtime.
Avalanche 4, Stars 3. History in the making.