These days, our imaginations run as wild as Nathan MacKinnon against the Wild. Let's pause from being giddy and greedy and simply acknowledge the transcendence that has transformed your Colorado Avalanche.
Yes, Colorado will likely face the Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs, and the Avs have dominated that club this season. But look — even if the Avs lose the series 4-0, each game by a score of 4-0, this season is a success.
I used to live in New Orleans, where they had a fancy French word — lagniappe, pronounced "lan-yap." It means, "a little something extra." Like if you're dining at Jacques-Imo's Café in Uptown New Orleans, and the chef brings you out a dish of alligator-sausage cheesecake on the house, that's lagniappe.
The Avs even just making the playoffs is lagniappe. Last season, they were the WORST TEAM IN THE WESTERN CONFERENCE. And on Thursday night I'm dining with some Boston Bruins writers, talking about a possible return to Denver for the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Avs' ascension has been resplendent. Patrick Roy, the more I get to know him, seems to be the ideal fit, not just because of his experience and the rings he puts in his ears to block out naysayers. He seems to be thriving as a psychologist too, and we all know the importance of mental strength in a sport such as hockey.
Even Monday at practice, I watched him participating in drills, talking to Semyon Varlamov one-on-one, working intricately with Ryan O'Reilly on a move, which O'Reilly then mastered the next go-around. The players love to work for their boss, and the Avalanche actually like being the Avalanche.
We get so caught up in the now, we seldom take a step back to appreciate. I mean, think back to where this club was a season ago. I literally did, going into our archives. Here are the two Denver Post stories written on March 24, 2013, by our man Adrian Dater. The first was his dispatch from Dallas, with the headline "Avs still stumbling." The second was his column about the upcoming NHL draft, with the headline: "Tank about it: Go worst for first."
Well, the Avs kept on stumbling and indeed nabbed the first pick. And here they are, three points from owning home ice against the 'Hawks in the first round.
We'll go back to being giddy and greedy in April, believing this Avs team should slap around the 'Hawks like Colorado did in the regular season. But just making the playoffs is the accomplishment, unlike their fellow Pepsi Center tenants last April, whose season was essentially a failure since the No. 3 Nuggets lost in the first round.
I've been impressed with the crowds lately for Avs games. I remember having lunch with Josh Kroenke a couple weeks into the season. The president and governor of the Avs wished more fans would show up to support the rising Avs, since many fans had grumbled about the failures in previous seasons (and now, for a change, Colorado was winning).
Well, fans started to dismiss this as a mirage and now Avs games are events. Though, it does stink how many opposing fans show up. I know the old line is that few people in Denver are actually from Denver, but my goodness, walking around the atrium last Friday, I thought I was in Boston. The ticket folks must try creative, outside-the-box ways to, at least, keep Illinois-based fans from buying tickets to the playoffs, because there already will be thousands of Denver Blackhawks fans showing up.
There are few things more exciting than playoff hockey. But let's take a moment just to appreciate that we'll get to watch playoff hockey, for a change.
OK, with that now out of your system — so, do you think they can knock off the defending Cup champs?
Benjamin Hochman: firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/hochman