The Calgary Flames once again best the Avs Saturday night. (Flames courtesy of Amada44 via Wikimedia Commons)
I swear, the Colorado Avalanche are trying their darndest to kill me. Tonight they played 30 minutes (at least) of incredibly lackluster hockey against the division rival Calgary Flames and entered into the third period down 4 – 1. An early goal by Matt Duchene lit a flame under the Avs and they managed to play one period of impassioned, exciting hockey. Unfortunately the third goal (credited to David Jones) was their last, and they lost the game 4 – 3.
An outcome they richly deserved.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the Avs. My sports teams mean a lot to me and I probably care more than I should about the final score of their games. But usually I don’t get too upset about poor play or a few losses. After all, it’s only sports…there are bigger concerns in this wonderful world of ours. The fastest – and maybe only – way to push my anger button is to fail to play hard from beginning to end. These men are professional athletes. Their job is to be ready for every game, get out on the ice, and do their everything in their power to be the best version of themselves in order to help their team win every night. No, it’s not easy, and it’s understandable that their humanity would get in the way from time to time. But they get paid to play the game. And we the fans part with our precious time and hard-earned money in order to support them in their endeavor.
Call me old fashioned, but I think the least they can do is play hard starting at the first puck drop and continuing straight through to the final horn.
Some of the players appear to give it their all come hell or high water. Shane O’Brien, Ryan O’Reilly, Ryan Wilson, Gabriel Landeskog, Kyle Quincey, and Milan Hejduk are a few of the names that come to mind. (That was not meant to be an exhaustive list…though it may be close.) The majority of the players, however, seem to only show up when the team is so far behind they need a miracle to get the win. There are many who believe this is largely a coaching issue, a perspective which is becoming harder and harder to dismiss. Assigning blame, while somewhat cathartic, does little to address the problem.
The Avs must figure out how to bring effort and passion to every period. As a fan I would be far more comfortable with losing if I could see that the team wanted to win as badly as I want them to win. If fans could look at the ice and see the players working hard it would be so much easier to put wear our hearts on our sleeves and cheer for our team. Until that happens we will always reserve a piece of ourselves, holding it back in case this team turns out to be no better than last seasons’ Avs, the team that broke our hearts month in and month out.
I know this wasn’t much of a recap. If you want the boxscore or stats, check here. Honestly I’m so fed up with this “oh, wait, we’re 18 goals down and it’s the third period? Maybe we should play some hockey now, boys” attitude that I sort of want to scream. Or beat the stuffing out of a punching bag.
This week the Avs go on the road, and could be the first team to play against a Crosby-d Penguins team on Tuesday night. Let’s hope the boys manage to show up for more than one of the periods in Pittsburgh.