Avs Need Some More Rivalries For Better Regular Season

Erik Johnson, Shea Weber, Craig SmithIt was hard for the fans to get up for last night’s Avalanche game against the Predators at the Pepsi Center. Apparently, the Avalanche couldn’t get up for it either after a 6-4 loss last night to the Predators. Hard to blame fans for not getting worked up against a team the Avalanche have zero history with.

The Predators are hard to hate. They overachieve every year, and they have kept the same management team in Predators general manager David Polie and Predators head coach Barry Trotz since their existence in 1998. Additionally, the two franchises do not have much of a history, which is most definitely a factor in Avalanche fans’ indifference.

Hatred comes when both teams play for something in the division and in the playoffs. Maybe it happens when the Avalanche and Predators meet up in the playoffs this year. Both teams never faced each other when both were good at the same time. The Predators were building a team when the Avalanche were Stanley Cup contenders, and the Avalanche have been bad in recent years while the Predators were contending for the Cup.

Let’s hope they meet up in April for a seven game series, because it’s hard to watch both teams play in November with no genuine hatred. I turned the game off after the first period since the game had no juice.

Regular season games are not fun to watch when no one gets worked up about a certain team. The Blackhawks, Canucks, Ducks and Kings are only games worth watching when it comes to facing the Avalanche.

With the Red Wings playing in the Eastern Conference, the Blackhawks replaces them as the Avalanche’s nemesis. Both teams have no history, but they are going to be meeting come playoff time if either of them are a step closer to the Stanley Cup. Plus, the defending Stanley Cup champions are a team Avalanche would love to topple on their way to winning a championship.

With Chicago transplants living in Colorado, the Blackhawks games have more meaning. The last thing Avalanche and their fans want to experience is watching Blackhawks fans taking over the Pepsi Center.

The Canucks have a history with the Avalanche going back to 2001. At one time, the Avalanche would get into their heads and they would deny their division rival’s goal of advancing in the playoffs. Plus, no one will forget Todd Bertuzzi ending Steve Moore’s career in 2004.

With John Tortorella coaching the Canucks, there’s going to be fireworks with him and first-year Avalanche coach Patrick Roy. There has to be with two ultra-competitors, so don’t worry about this rivalry dying.

The Ducks and Kings are good matchups against the Avalanche. The Ducks created one on Opening Night when a Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy hit Avalanche rookie forward Nathan MacKinnon that caused Roy to scream at Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau after the game, and the Kings are in the Avalanche’s way of hoisting the Cup. Plus, Southern California teams always get Coloradoans riled up with their transplants. Still, the Avalanche need to create more rivals for regular season games to matter.

Maybe with the Avalanche being good, other Western Conference teams will step up their game against them.  That would be nice after watching meaningless games all these years.

The Avalanche experienced some lean years lately, so games against up-and-coming teams and last night’s opponents are uninspiring to watch.

It was obvious the Predators were not whipping Avalanche fans into a frenzy based on how quiet the arena was in the first period. Anyone could have heard the players talk on the television set in the living room. It might as well be a hockey scrimmage out there.

There’s no question the fans’ lack of interest spurred the Avalanche to come out flat. Teams always feed off from the home crowd, and when the place is dead, it’s hard for a team to pick it up.

Yes, the players are paid professionals, but they are also human. Plus, the Avalanche have so many young players that have lot to learn when it comes to professionalism. They are not mature enough to be all in every night. This loss shows they got work to do when it comes to approaching each and every game, and that will come with experience.

Let’s hope this season is the last time divisional games and conference games turn out to be a snoozefest.

For the money fans pay for games, they shouldn’t be bored watching games that the Avalanche have no history with teams such as the Predators.

Only bad blood makes regular season have so much significance.


Leslie Monteiro

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie is a contributor for Lightning Rod Sports. He covered high school sports in Bergen County out in North Jersey, and has written op-ed columns on sports such as Bleacher Report and NY Sports Digest.

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