We are fully in the dog days of August now. No signings, no news, even the ever-vigilant Toronto hockey media corps has shut the hell up about MarnerWatch for the time being. The peace and quiet is nice for sure.
After the traumatic game 7 vs San Jose I eschewed watching the rest of the Stanley Cup save for a period here and there so that was the last real hockey game watched for the 2018-19 season. It’s always tough to decompress after the Avs are done for the year and plenty of other sports have premiere Summer events. The French Open was excellent, Wimbledon was above average for the first time in a while, this year’s Tour de France was fantastic and our local Sally League ballclub has been entertaining. Watching the strong, productive play of Sampo Ranta and Bowen Byram at the Summer Showcase was a hoot but it was more shinny than high competition.
I work four 10’s so Thursday evening is a time to chill and re-energize. This past week it dawned on me that I hadn’t seen a hockey game in exactly 3 months and that was far too long. Thanks to NHLtv’s archives I was able to re-live the recent past and choose a Avalanche pick-me-up to view. It took about 10 seconds to settle on a choice: Game 3 vs Calgary. Yesss.
I wouldn’t say that was the Avs at their best because I believe that’s yet to come but that 1st Period was exhilarating. MacKinnon was scoring at will and blowing past anyone he felt like. Makar made his debut and scored on his first shot on goal. Mikko’s setup on Mack’s 2nd goal was so beautiful it brings one to tears. Overall they outshot Calgary 21-8 in the frame and the Pepsi Center was total mayhem the entire time. The rest of the game went much the same way with Matt Nieto adding his 2nd shortie in as many games, Mikko twisting the knife on a breakaway and EJ closing out the night with his first of two playoff goals. Very satisfying as hockey games go.
Besides the various aspects of glorious play, the thing that stuck out for me was the roster changes we’ve seen over the Summer. Carl Soderberg, Alexander Kerfoot and Tyson Barrie have been turned into Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky and Kevin Connauton via trade. Joonas Donskoi, who would eventually eliminate the Avs with a goal midway through the 2nd period of that game 7 vs San Jose, decided to make up for it by signing on July 1st. Gabriel Bourque left and has been replaced by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Patrik Nemeth has signed a lucrative contract with the hated wingy wheels. Joe Sakic decided to double down on fantastic young defensemen by drafting Bowen Byram and making sure Sam Girard will be in the Avs locker room as well as our hearts for the next 8 years. The man in the hat at the end of the bench will now be Pavel Francouz instead of Semyon Varlamov. Taking Ian Cole’s injury into consideration, at least eight Avs who suited up for that game will not be around to once again face the Flames on opening night. That sounds like a lot for a team that was perhaps an offside interpretation away from playing for the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl but progress waits for no one.
No enlightened analysis here, just bringing up some fond memories. If the reader has a couple hours to kill and access to the game vid, it’s well worth the time to say goodbye to a few fellows we’ll be missing for real eight weeks from now and to remember that next years’ team has awesomeness that is far from imaginary. This time of year brings forth doubts and dubious projections, perhaps a look at reality brings back a little reality into a fan’s mindset. No charge for the smiles either, enjoy!