Sunday, April 20, 2008

Minnesota is gone, Colorado moves on

Spring time in Minnesota will be saved up for fishing and golfing, hockey is officially off the calendar after the Colorado Avalanche dismissed the Minnesota Wild on Saturday night with another outstanding effort from Jose Theodore in the Colorado nets.

Theodore shut the door on the Wild scorers, holding them to one goal on 34 shots, including a last minute save that took away what seemed like a sure fire tying goal as the regulation time was winding down in Denver.

Colorado depended on some familiar names for their offensive output on Saturday, with Captain Joe Sakic assisting on Ben Guite’s opening period goal while Ryan Smyth once again proved his value to a playoff team with the Avs winning marker midway through the second period.

From that point on it was once again the Jose show, as Theodore continued to exhibit the kind of form that once won him a Hart trophy many seasons ago. Theodore’s hot streak has come along at just the right time, as he frustrated Jacques Lemaires Wild time and time again over the course of the six games.

Minnesota’s early exit from the playoffs will once again renew the suspicion that there were some issues still unresolved in the Wild dressing room as the season was winding down and through this first round of the playoffs. There a re a number of free agent decisions to come as well as potential changes in the upper offices depending on how the NHL landscape shakes out by September.

Of most concern for Wild fans will the post season slump of Marian Gaborik, who went missing during the first round. He was held pointless by the Avalanche defense and more importantly by Theodore, a situation that grew more desperate by the game for the once mighty Wild sniper.

Gaborik is the team’s franchise player at the moment; he commands the largest salary and is probably the most recognizable player in the line up. The Wild proved to be another in the long line of teams that performed well in the regular season but couldn’t find the right combinations in the post season to prolong their time on the ice.

They had more than their fair share of unlucky bounces and ran into a hot goaltender at the wrong time, but in the end they couldn’t get the job done, and that’s what counts in playoff hockey. The Avalanche found the right mix of offense and incredible goaltending (leaning on the latter a little too much comfort some might say) to continue their run.

Confidence, always a key ingredient in a playoff trek is firmly on the side of the Avalanche as they prepare for round two. Colorado survived a rough patch in games two and three, the continued to build on their game through to their game six series ending victory.

A learning curve that may prove quite helpful as they continue on with their quest for another Cup for Colorado.

Denver Post-- The price was right
. Stats Pack

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