- Texas man arrested for powder-letter hoax
- Islamic State opens ‘marriage bureau’ for single jihadists
- Drone almost blocks California firefighting planes
- Tornado rips off roofs, downs trees near Boston
- GOP: Environmental rules keeping agents from accessing border
- John Kerry: Millions displaced by religious fighting in 2013
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia’s gay marriage ban
- White House says Russia ‘losing’ war in Ukraine
- Hamas turns to North Korea for weapons deal, Iran for money
- Syrian casualties surge as jihadis consolidate
Avalanche back in playoffs, focus on Wild
Question of the Day
DENVER (AP) - As the season went along and the Colorado Avalanche kept winning and winning, they broadened their ambitions: From simply making the playoffs to accumulating 100 points to capturing a division title.
This youthful squad pretty much accomplished everything they set their minds to, even if “nobody expected to see us where we are,” first-year coach Patrick Roy said.
A turnaround such as this was understandably a little hard to picture, considering a year ago Colorado finished last in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche not only matched a franchise record for wins (52), but secured the Central Division as they return to the postseason for the first time in four years. They host the Minnesota Wild in a best-of-seven series that begins Thursday night.
“From the get-go, our guys came to camp and were ready,” Roy said. “They wanted to be different, they wanted to see a change, and they play hard.
“They were working hard, they were focused and they wanted to have a good year.”
Roy will be no doubt be a strong candidate for coach of the year for the job he’s done - taking a 16-win team during a lockout-shortened season to 52 victories.
But he’s not the only one possibly in line for some prestigious awards: Nathan MacKinnon appears to be a virtual lock for rookie of the year and Semyon Varlamov should be among the favorites for the Vezina Trophy, which is given to the league’s best goaltender. Varlamov finished with a franchise-record 41 wins, surpassing Roy’s total (40) back when the Hall of Famer led the team to the 2000-01 Stanley Cup title.
“Obviously, our goaltending’s been the backbone of our team,” forward Paul Stastny said. “As the season went on, we kept getting better.”
For weeks, the Avalanche appeared on a collision course with the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in the playoffs.
So now the Avalanche face Minnesota, a team they were 4-0-1 against in the regular season.
Still, the Wild have them worried.
“It’s going to be tough,” Stastny said. “They’re playing well right now.”
Especially with Ilya Bryzgalov giving the team some stability in goal. The Wild acquired the veteran in early March from the Edmonton Oilers and Bryzgalov went 7-1-3 down the stretch. His only clunker was in the season-finale Sunday, when Bryzgalov allowed five goals in a 7-3 loss to Nashville.
By David Keene
Allowing states to innovate could reduce dependency on bureaucracy
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
- Iraqi Christians rally at White House: 'Obama, Obama, where are you?'
- Romney would win popular vote in rematch against Obama: CNN poll
- Tennessee Gov. Haslam slams White House for secret dump of illegals in his state
- White House defends Kerry failure to broker Middle East cease-fire
- Babson College, BYU win top spots in Money magazine's college rankings
- Russia violating 1987 nuclear missile treaty
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq