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No matter how you slice it, 2013-14 was an amazing year for the Colorado Avalanche. The 2012-13 Avalanche team tallied 39 points in 48 games, only three more than the lowly Florida Panthers.
They were the worst team in the Western Conference, and they moved up from No. 2 at the NHL draft lottery to earn the right to select Nathan MacKinnon at the 2013 NHL draft.
This season, the Avs were the third-best team in the NHL in the standings, they had the fifth-best offense, they received solid goaltending and they accomplished all of this under a rookie coach. No one predicted that they would go from 29th to third in the NHL, and that is an amazing accomplishment.
Anything the Avs did after their regular season could be looked at as icing on the cake. Would it have been nice to win a series? Of course it would have been, but this year they simply were unable to close out a veteran team.
Colorado didn't have what it takes to close out a series. The Minnesota Wild were full of veterans such as Zach Parise, a player who reached the Stanley Cup Final two years ago. The Avalanche have tons of talent and youth, and this year they gained valuable playoff experience.
The Avs are on the rise, and it is fair to say that they are now a more attractive team for a free agent to sign with in 2014 than they were in 2013. This was an amazing building year for a talented young squad, so fans should be proud even though it was knocked out during the first round.
Overall Grade: B+
All stats cited are from NHL.com.