DENVER • The 2018-19 Colorado Avalanche are a miracle on ice.
“Miraculously, we’re sitting in a (playoff) spot,” coach Jared Bednar said.
Something I hadn’t considered before this Avs season: Did Jesus freeze the Sea of Galilee first?
“We have to understand we’re still in a playoff position — after playing like (s) for the last six weeks, to be completely honest with you,” said Gabriel Landeskog, not the swearing type.
The Avs are proof miracles happen in sports, too. (Or they simply picked a good time to have a bad time. That’s probably it.) They just went 2-8-2 over an awful stretch of 12 games and, if the playoffs began today, they’d somehow still be in. It’s a miracle!
“There’s no other year that you could go through a stretch like we went through and we’d be anywhere near a spot,” Bednar said. “So consider ourselves lucky to this point.”
Starting Monday against the Nashville Predators, the Avs have their next four games at Pepsi Center. “Go time,” Landy said. They smacked the Kings around on Saturday, 7-1, but haven’t won consecutive games since November. We’re about to find out if this is the new, bold era that was advertised by last season’s playoff push.
Wins and losses are one thing. You can’t predict puck luck. But when the coach, a man who is not prone to hyperbole, calls out a team’s competitive spirit? That’s another thing entirely. That’s wondering aloud if you’ve got the right guys in the dressing room. And when the team captain goes on to list “work ethic, urgency, inspiration, daily habits and... attitude” as issues that were addressed in a team meeting Friday?
“I think a lot of good points have been brought up,” Landeskog said. “But we’ve also had a lot of meetings over the last handful of weeks. So we’ve just got to go out and play and do instead of talking.”
The Avs sound like a team that’s trying to weed out the guys they must keep from the guys who can go. The next four games are a critical time that should help shape the roster beyond this season.
“We’ve got to start with our competitiveness and being ready to play, which we didn’t have in (a bad loss at) Ottawa,” Bednar said. “It’s got to be every night. It’s got to be every night. Right now it’s not every night.”
Woo, boy. That’s a mouthful. I had to ask: you think this team’s missing a competitive edge?
“It hasn’t been missing. It just hasn’t been consistent,” Bednar said.
“It starts with the competitiveness. If it’s not there, there’s no use in looking and anything else. That’s got to be a prerequisite before everything else,” he added.
Nobody wants to hear it, but there’s another explanation for how the Avalanche went from best-in-the-West in late October to gripping the playoff ledge with a fingernail: youth. Have you seen the “10-Year Challenge” that’s all over the Internet? It’s also a helpful reminder the Avs’ 10-Year Challenge would look like a sixth-grade yearbook.
The Avs shot down my youth theory. They’re not buying it.
“I think that’s an easy excuse to say, hey, we’re young, we’ll figure it out,” nine-year veteran Ian Cole countered, then he went in like Landeskog did: “I think for too long now we’ve been hoping that things are going to change, or hoping things work out, or hoping things get better. But we haven’t played well enough. We need to take a larger role in the product we put on the ice and take a larger role in our urgency going forward. It’s certainly urgent at this point.”
“Miraculously,” as the coach said, the Avs are still in position for a playoff spot. Wouldn’t it be a shame to waste a blessing?
(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)