Tonight is the Avalanche’s 10th Game 7 since moving to Denver. So much good memories. So much bad memories. That’s life of Game 7, which a team wins some and loses some.
The Avs will try to break even with their Game 7 record tonight as they wrap up their Western Conference quarterfinals against a good Wild team at the Pepsi Center. Their record is 4-5 in Game 7s.
It isn’t only about winning Game 7 tonight. Tonight is an opportunity for this new generation of Avalanche to create their own history.
For players like Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny, Ryan O’Reilly, Matt Duchene, Semyon Varlamov, and Nathan MacKinnon, this is the important game of their career. This is where these guys have to show they have the ability to win a decisive game. It’s the type of experience that can help them mold into champions. This is where we find out about their value. As Avs coach Patrick Roy would say, it’s time for them to put their marbles on the table.
It’s great those guys put good numbers in the regular season and playoff games, but it’s about producing in the biggest moment of the series. Game 7 defines a player’s reputation.
The time has come for the Avalanche to create new history. It’s great to remember guys like Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, Patrick Roy, Chris Drury, Milan Hejduk and all. What they did shouldn’t be diminished since these guys paved the way to this franchise’s success. With that said, it gets old thinking about the past.
It’s been a long time since this franchise created a great moment. The last great moment came in 2001 when the Avalanche won Game 7 in the Stanley Cup finals by celebrating a 3-1 victory over the Devils in what was a great Stanley Cup series.
Yes, the last time the Avalanche won a Game 7 was in the 2002 Western Conference semifinals when they had a 1-0 victory over the Sharks. That was a good moment, but that was a game they were supposed to win.
This game is a game where it’s hard to tell who is going to win tonight. While the Avs have home-ice advantage tonight, that’s no guarantee. The Wild have outplayed their opponent in this series by leading four of six games with three minutes in regulation. In fact, the Wild almost won Game 5 at the Pepsi Center.
They are capable of winning tonight. One has to figure the law of averages has to catch up to the road team after the home team won all of their three games in this series.
The stage is set for MacKinnon to put one more good show for the ages. He has been great in this playoff series by scoring two goals and dishing out eight assists in the Avalanche’s three home games in this first round. He scored a game-winning goal in Game 5, and he assisted in the game-tying goal and game-winning goal in Game 7.
If he can score the game-winning goal in tonight’s decisive game, he will certainly be up there with all the Avalanche’s greats that created good moments. This is why he has lot at stake for tonight.
Landeskog can validate his captain role by stepping up in an important game. The captain always lead by example in these types of games, and that’s where we are going to find out if he can be the next Sakic.
Stastny is playing for a nice payday when he becomes a free agent. He could boost his value by having a great game. There’s a good chance tonight could be his last game as a member of the Avalanche. He has monetary motivation to do well tonight.
O’Reilly likes to consider himself as a great player. This is his chance to show how good he is.
Duchene came back from the injured list in Game 6. He did good by creating many scoring chances. He almost scored a goal in that game, too. Wouldn’t it be something if he was the guy that took the Avalanche to the next round by having a great game?
Varlamov has been great in this series by making saves after saves. One can make a case he was the best player in this series. All of this can go for naught if he bombs in Game 7. He probably has the most pressure of all the guys that play for the Avalanche. As great as he has played, no one is going to remember what he did in the first six games if he can’t give his team a chance to win tonight. He has to set the tone.
These young Avs are ready for a moment like this. They have been pining for this day. They had to know this day was coming in this year’s playoffs. It’s what these guys have dreamed about since they were drafted by this franchise.
They don’t need a pep talk for this game. They don’t need to know what’s at stake.
These guys get it.
It’s on them to make their own history.
Contact or follow Leslie Monteiro at @LightRodWriter