When the Colorado Avalanche officially clinched a playoff spot just one season after being one of the worst clubs in the NHL, it was an incredible story. Expectations weren’t terribly high for the team coming into this year. They had earned the top pick in the offseason draft, acquiring forward Nathan MacKinnon. The club also hired a familiar face to coach the team, giving Colorado legend and Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy his first NHL coaching gig. Though Avalanche fans and front office alike were hoping for a better season than last year’s, playoffs still seemed like a bit of a reach.
Apparently, nobody told this to Roy and his team. Colorado surged out of the gate, winning 12 of their first 13 games. Those waiting for a swoon typically seen after hot starts were left with no reward, as the Avalanche remained competitive all season. Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog have been offensive powerhouses, while MacKinnon is the odds-on favorite to win the Calder Trophy for the league’s top rookie. In net, Semyon Varlamov is having the best season of his career. It was safe to say that, when the club officially clinched a playoff berth, the entire league was astounded at how quickly the team rebounded.
Thing is, there’s a chance the Avalanche could have another surprise up their sleeve. With three games remaining, Colorado is just two points away from the top seed in the entire Western Conference. That’s right; a team that looked like a mess just one season ago has a chance at clinching home ice through the entire playoffs.
The St. Louis Blues, who at one point looked like they were running away with the conference, have lost three straight. At 111 points, their grip on the west has become tenuous. The Anaheim Ducks are currently in second with 110 points, with the Avs right behind them at 109. Each team has three games remaining, so this race could go down to the wire. Anyone could’ve predicted Anaheim and St. Louis fighting for the top spot in the conference, but even the most biased Avalanche fan couldn’t have seen this coming.
It’s just another chapter in the absolutely astonishing season Colorado has put together. In just one calendar year, the Avalanche have gone from bottom feeders to one of the most dangerous teams in the league. Clinching a playoff spot a year after a disappointing season was a huge win for the club, but if they can follow up last year’s letdown by netting the top seed in the Western Conference, it would be one of the most incredible turnarounds the league has ever seen.