Colorado Avalanche coach, Joel Quenneville, should be commended for the job he’s done this year. For most of the season he’s been working with a reduced deck.
Over the course of the season, his top seven forwards have missed a combined 117 games due to injury; including 38 to their captain Joe Sakic.
Yet somehow Quenneville managed to not only squeeze his team into the postseason but nearly wrestle the NorthWest division crown from the Minnesota Wild.
Fittingly, it was the Wild that played host to the Avalanche in their opening round series.
For most of the series the Wild outplayed Colorado. But good special teams and spectacular play from goaltender, Jose Theodore, pushed the Avs into the second round.
Colorado and its fans must have thought the worst was behind them as they looked forward to renewing an old rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings. However, not every story has a happy ending.
Through three games in this series, the Wings have dominated the Avs much like they did in the regular season when they claimed victory in all four meetings, three ending with Colorado being shutout. And just like in the regular season, the Avs have looked more like a M.A.S.H. unit than a hockey club poised to go deep into the playoffs.
With many of their top forwards playing hurt or on the sidelines, the Wings have taken a commanding three-games-to-none lead. Cinderella’s fairy godmother could fix many problems with a swish of her wand, but not even her magic could fix this pumpkin.
Detroit head coach, Mike Babcock, has immense respect for Quenneville, but you won’t see him shed any tears over the injury bug that has rooted itself into the Avalanche lineup.
In last year’s playoffs, the Wings had the task of unseating eventual Cup winners, the Anaheim Ducks, without two of their top four defensemen. They lost in six and the rest is history.
The playoffs have always been about health and luck, but the two have never been more coveted since the lockout. In a league that is razor-thin in parity, having a healthy lineup and getting timely bounces can mean the difference between a first round humbling and claiming the ultimate prize in June.
So far the Wings have had an abundance of both.
For the Avs, rest is sorely needed. The Wings hope to give them four months of it come Thursday night.