NHL playoffs: Avalanche takes another big step forward with playoff run

DENVER – For Gabriel Landeskog and the Colorado Avalanche this was up for debate: whether his skate touched the blue line of a game-defining goal in game 7 before it was knocked over.

For the captain of Colorado and his teammates, this was out of the question: their prospects for the future.

The Avs are young, quick and ready to be a potential contender for the seasons ahead. They made it into the playoffs for the second year in a row and got out of a streak as No. 8 for the first time since 2008. But their run was interrupted with a 3-2 defeat at San Jose in the Western Conference semifinals series final.

“The further you get away from this game tonight and this playoff run, the easier it will be to look back with a little perspective,” said Landeskog. ” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a really bright future for this organization and this hockey team. ”

Landeskog blamed himself for a decisive moment in the defeat at the end of the season on Wednesday. The Avalanche appeared to end the game in the middle of game two when Nathan MacKinnon pitched Colin Wilson, but Sharks coach Peter DeBoer challenged the game offside. The call was canceled because Landeskog was still in the zone when he left the ice when changing lines.

“Bad mistake,” said Landeskog. ” If I could have done something different with this game, I would have jumped the boards much faster. ”

It was a season of highs (with most points in the west after the December 7th Games), valleys (a 5-15-6 slip in the mid-season) and finally a big turnaround.

On March 17th, the Avs were six points behind the last wildcard place. They reached the top league 8-0-2 in the next 10 games to sneak into the postseason. Then they caused quite a stir in the first round by eliminating Calgary, the top seeded in the west, in five games.

“It’s a good move for us as an organization, of course,” said MacKinnon, who slammed his shoulder into the boards at the beginning of Game 7 and returned after an injection. ” We brought a really good team to Game 7. So this is a good move. ”

The same feeling from coach Jared Bednar.

“We have shown that we have something here to move forward with and build on,” said Bednar. ” Expectations are rising and we have to react accordingly. ”

Colorado has fourth overall pick in the upcoming draft courtesy of Ottawa under trading for Matt Duchene in November 2017. The Avalanche also has a youthful core that has grown rapidly.

This includes defenseman Cale Makar, who joined the team in Game 3 of the Calgary Series after completing his college season in Massachusetts. He gave the Avs an instant boost and finished the playoffs with one goal and five assists.

It’s been some tumultuous weeks for Makar, who won the Hobey Baker Award for best college hockey player, played in the championship game of the Frozen Four, signed a three-year deal with Colorado on April 14, and scored his first NHL goal the next day.

Now he can settle in a little – and round up his things.

“Everything is back to school,” said Makar. “Some of the boys moved into a house off campus. When all of this is done, hopefully someone can send it home for me. ”

Here are the things to know in the off-season:

POINT TAKEN: MacKinnon’s career high of 99 points (41 goals) in the regular season was the most by an Avalanche player since Joe Sakic had 100 points in the 2006-07 season. MacKinnon’s 365 shots broke Sakic’s team mark of 339 set up in 1995-96.

HIGH RATINGS: Colorado had quite a number of players in their careers. A small excerpt: Mikko Rantanen (87 points, 31 goals, 56 assists), Landeskog (75 points, 34 goals, nine game-winning goals), Matt Calvert (26 points), Matt Nieto (19 assists), Carl Soderberg (23.) Goals) and Tyson Barrie (59 points, 45 assists, 218 shots).

FREE AGENTS: Rantanen is a restricted free agent this summer and will make money after his all-star season. The Aces have some upcoming free agents including goalkeeper Semyon Varlamov and striker Derick Brassard, who was acquired in February.

GRUUU: Avalanche goalkeeper Philipp Grubauer set career highlights in victories (18), games (37) and closed his record for shutouts with three points when he took over for Varlamov. The crowd kept chanting his name – “Gruuuu” – when he made a big parade. He was 7-5 with a 2.30 goals-against-average in the postseason.

COMEBACK KIDS: Colorado scored 103 goals in the third period, the highest number of Avalanche teams since the team moved to Mile High City. Landeskog led the way with the most NHL 20 goals in the third period.

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