Welcome to the 56th edition of Tuesdays With Mitch, where there appears to be plenty of room on the Denver hockey bandwagon. (I jumped on a couple months ago.) The sports world (still) has a lot going on. Let’s get into it…
The Colorado Avalanche have just completed one of the most surprising regular seasons I have ever seen. In last year’s lockout-shortened season the Avs finished last in the Western Conference at 16-25-7. This year they finished with the 2nd best record in all of the NHL at 52-22-8. So this year they played 34 more games and had three fewer regulation losses.
Think about that for a second. It’s astounding.
We just witnessed one of the great turnarounds in Colorado sports history, even if much of the public didn’t realize it because the local media was more enamored with debates about who the Broncos might pick 31st overall or the likelihood of Von Miller getting suspended again.* But those of us who have paid attention to the Avs (and I’m not exactly a superfan or hockey nut) have been treated to a fun season from a talented team that is a blast to watch.
*As much as I bitch about the local media and their year-round, unending fascination with the Broncos, all they’re doing is feeding the beast. Give the people what they want. And in Denver, people want the Broncos. Like, all the time. ALL OF THE TIME. ALL! OF! THE! TIME! Honestly, I think if I devoted this post to… I dunno, the release of Broncos’ preseason schedule (THE SEAHAWKS DUDE!) it would generate more views than writing about the Avalanche. But I digress…
Anyway the wild season started with this awesome, awesome moment at the end of Opening Night:
That maniac right there is your NHL Coach of the Year. This was a symbolic moment for the franchise, even if we didn’t know at the time. Roy stuck up for his players and made it clear he wouldn’t be taking any crap. This was moment was awesome on so many levels. Have I already mentioned that?
Aside from Roy, this team has become one of the league’s best because of a remarkable wealth of young talent that continues to develop, specifically from four players who have been the biggest factor in the Avalanche’s unexpected ascension to the top of the NHL standings.
Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly are in their fifth seasons in the league since being drafted in 2009. Gabriel Landeskong is in his third season since being drafted in 2011. And Nathan MacKinnon should be the Rookie of the Year this season since being drafted with the top pick. All four were drafted by the Avalanche.
That’s a lot of young, homegrown talent. (The Post had a nice feature on these four in Sunday’s Sports section.) Duchene is the team’s best player. He was injured and missed all of April, but others have somehow filled in for him seamlessly.
Throw in veteran Paul Stastny playing some of the best hockey of his career in Duchene’s absence and some clutch late-game scoring from Tyson Barrie down the stretch and some MVP-level play from Semyon Varlamov between the pipes all season and you have Home Ice in at least the first two rounds of playoffs. After watching the Avs for the past couple of seasons, I can’t believe I just typed that.
The NHL playoffs is one of the best events in sports. They games are intense. They don’t seem to take six months like the NBA playoffs. They feature a lot of gross lookin’ beards. What’s not to love?
The Avalanche take on the seventh-seeded Minnesota Wild beginning Thursday night at The Can. The series is in the 2-2-1-1-1 format with games every other day.
You’ll have to take my word for it when I say I am an expert on the entire Minnesota roster but I just don’t feel like diving into it right now.
I like the Avs in six.
Whatever happens with the Avalanche moving forward, the season has already been an unequivocal success.
And these playoffs should be pretty darn fun.
On to the weekly departments with an emphasis on The Masters this week…
Stud of the week:
We’ll go with Bubba Watson because he won that recent golf tournament and seems like a pretty good dude. Also I just like this GIF. Somebody knew what they were doing when they set up this scene. Pretty awesome to let that little dude just wander out there on his own. Then his completely unimpressed, I-Don’t-Care-About-Any-Of-This reaction was cute.
(This little guy was far more impressed at a Milwaukee Brewers game this week.)
Tweet of the week: Speaking of that Bubba Watson fellow… He sure knows how to play up the “normal dude” angle. After he won the Masters and the $1.62 million purse that came with it (not a bad weekend) he celebrated with a gourmet meal at… Waffle House.
Picture of the week:
Lots of little boys in this week’s post apparently. My mom is gunna be pumped! That is Finn Stallings (son of PGA’er Scott Stallings) checking out the flag stick in Wednesday’s practice round. Gorgeous shot.
Douche of the week:
Aldon Smith is an absolute nut job. Certainly you’ve by now heard the story of his arrest for telling a TSA agent he had a bomb. What a freaking nut job! Anyway, I have obtained exclusive footage of him getting arrested at the airport:
Back to the Masters. This one is pretty funny
And finally, this video is long. But it’s worth it. Absolutely hilarious.
Two moments just slayed me. 1. The guy describing a conversation on the mound with the catcher’s glove over his mouth. 2. The guy describing “Hand signals! Not even sign language!” Genious stuff.
Happy Tuesday everybody. Thanks for reading. See ya next week.
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