What is there to say about Game 4 of this opening round series between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild? Aside from the fact that the Wild won by a 2-1 score that doesn't even begin to show how thoroughly they manhandled the Avalanche, it wasn't much to look at. If you saw Game 3, you pretty much already saw Game 4. If the fourth contest was different at all, it was worse. This time the Wild put 32 shots on net while the Avalanche had only 12. TWELVE. Yes, that's for the whole game. In Games 3 and 4 combined Colorado was outshot 78-34. It's like the people who keep track of these things are playing a practical joke on everybody. But it's real. These past two games have arguably been the worst that the Avalanche have ever played. Even over the last five years when the team was perennially in the NHL cellar they could avoid being outshot this badly.
While the shots on goal don't always tell an accurate story, in this case they are a perfect reflection of how the Avalanche have failed in such cataclysmic fashion. It was as if there was a force field at the Minnesota blue line immediately repelling any attempt from Colorado to enter the offensive zone. Meanwhile, the Wild moved the puck through the neutral zone and the Avalanche zone with ease. Again, the only reason the final score wasn't something like 6-1 was because of the superhero doing his best goaltender impression, Semyon Varlamov. He alone was the only Avalanche player who came to play at Xcel Energy Center, an arena that is surprisingly still standing after the earth-shattering ruckus that is has hosted this week.
Astonishingly, one of Colorado's 12 shots haphazardly bounced through the legs of Minnesota goaltender Darcy Kuemper, and if not for that, the big story would be how the Avalanche have been shut out in back to back games. As it is, one goal in 126 minutes adequately describes the masochistic experience that watching these last two games has been for Avalanche fans. Now the team will limp back to Denver licking its wounds and desperately searching for answers.
The only thing that could bode well for the Avalanche now is the fact that the home team has won every game of this series as they return to Pepsi Center. In fact, in the Western Conference portion of the playoffs, the home team has won 15 out of 16 games. If not for that other one, it would be reasonable to question why they are even bothering to play the games since apparently home ice has suddenly become an absolute truth. If that pattern holds, Colorado will eventually prevail in this series, but only if the team that we saw in the last two games disappears and the team that won the Central Division this season actually shows up.Tags: Central Division, Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Hockey, NHL, Semyon Varlamov, Western Conference