So it all comes down to this. One game will decide if the Colorado Avalanche will earn their first playoff series win in six years or have their storybook season cut short. The Avalanche organization has been preparing for exactly this scenario for years, this year especially. Over the grind of the regular season, the team earned the right to host this game, and now the moment has come for these young players to actually play in a game their childhood selves always imagined playing in. Nothing compares to the atmosphere of a Stanley Cup Playoffs Game 7.
For Colorado, this will be their first Game 7 since 2003, when they lost to this same opponent, the Minnesota Wild, in what was Patrick Roy's last game as a player. Now, 11 years later, Roy will get another crack at them, this time as a head coach. Appropriately, the last player ever to score a goal against Roy, Andrew Brunette, is now a part of the Wild organization in a non-playing capacity, just as Roy is with the Avalanche.
But the team isn't focused on the past. From the outside, fans have the luxury of putting these games into certain contexts, but for the players and coaches, it's all about taking care of business right now. The Avalanche have come a long way, not just throughout the season, but over the course of this series. They have played well in the last two games, rebounding from embarrassing performances in the two games prior. They have been initiated into the reality of the playoffs, into the intensity and environment that transcend anything that happens in the regular season.
Now they are back on home ice, facing elimination for the first time. But the team is embracing the situation they now find themselves in. They don't have to make major changes to the way they're playing. They have been doing the little things right. They've gotten stronger on the forecheck. Their puck movement on the power play has gotten better. They have kept good positioning on defense and stopped being grossly outshot. Although the last game didn't end the way they wanted it to, the team showed noticeable improvement in their play. And of course, the team has gotten a boost from the return of their leading scorer, Matt Duchene. Now if they just stay disciplined at play with the most urgency they can muster, they can finally put this series away with the Pepsi Center crowd rallying behind them.Tags: Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Game 7, Hockey, Matt Duchene, NHL, Patrick Roy, Stanley Cup Playoffs