Monday, April 26, 2004

Avalanche Sliding towards elimination

33 shots after the start of Game three, the Colorado Avalanche found out that they were no closer to solving the riddle that has become Evgani Nabakov, they are however one more loss away from not having to worry about him anymore.

For the third game in a row Colorado came up short on the scoreboard as the San Jose Sharks took a one goal lead and turned it into a Game Three win, putting the Avalanche one loss away from being swept and eliminated from this years Stanley Cup Playoffs.

For Nabakov it was his second shut out in the playoffs this season as he leads the Sharks with outstanding goaltending. The unusually quiet Pepsi Centre crowd sat back and watched their Avalanche play a better game than the previous two efforts this series, but yet it wasn’t enough to capture a win. Vincent Damphousse put in the winning goal halfway through the third period, deflating the crowd further and taking all steam out of the Avalanche bench.

Holding the Sharks to 17 shots wasn’t enough on this night, as Nabakov shut the door, until Damphousse capitalized on his lucky break, banking the winning shot off of Aebischer into the net.

All that seems to be left now in this series is to see if Colorado can avoid being eliminated in four straight. There seems little chance of them being capable of winning four in a row to advance this year. They now have a choice, they can bow out in four and await the media onslaught or drag things out a few more days before facing the expected critical reviews of the season that was supposed to be, but isn’t going to be.

The loaded line up provided for Tony Granato at the start of the season was expected to challenge if not win the Cup. Through the regular season the sputtered and stalled. Featuring that season ending crash where they fell down the standings in the final month of action. They managed to put away a rather old and tired looking Dallas team but against these Sharks they just haven’t performed.

San Jose has out skated, out hit, outscored and of course totally dominated the goaltending in the series. That is why they sit 3 games up and fully in control of things. Colorado look lost on the ice, unsure as to how they should handle the faster and more physical Sharks.

On Wednesday night this most disappointing of seasons will most likely come to an end for Colorado fans. The newspapers and call in shows are probably already ahead of the pack, in dissecting what went wrong. A season that offered up so much promise in September is now crashing in disappointment before the end of April. Pierre Lacroix has a bit of work ahead of him, a lineup that features the likes of a Sakic, Forsberg, Kariya, Foote, Hejduk and Blake should not be floundering like they have in this series.

One thing is certain, Head coaching resumes will be flying into the Avalanche offices right after the post series handshakes, Pierre should start wondering if the GM resumes are arriving as well!

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