Feb 19, 2021 | SPORTS | By Quinn Guevara | Illustration by Maren Greene

Jan. 13, 2021. The Colorado Avalanche’s first hockey game of the 2021 season. So much at stake. The expectation: playoffs. The goal: hoisting a Stanley cup for the first time since 2000.

And they have the team to do it this year. They have the net minder, Philipp Grubauer. They have the defense, led by the young star Cale Makar, who currently leads the team in the plus-minus ratio. And they have the star power. Nathan Mackinnon is considered one of the league’s greatest stars.

Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong for the Aves that night, as they lost 4-1 against a strong St. Louis Blues team. The following night, however, Aves fans were treated to the potential that they know their team has, beating that same St. Louis Blues team 8-0.

For their fans, disappointment is not uncommon. As a capable team last year going into the playoffs, they were strong Stanley Cup contenders. They lost to the Stanley Cup finalist Dallas Stars in the second round of the Western Conference Playoffs in game seven.

Following their opening games this season, the Avalanche have gotten into a groove. They currently stand in fourth in the Western Division after losing a tough game on Monday against the Las Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 1-0. The Knights’ Max Pacioretty scored the ultimate game winner just 1:38 into the second quarter.

Head coach Jared Bednar spoke to the team’s offense and their scoring chances in a recent interview with CBS Sports.

“We were missing our legs a little bit, you could tell even just with talking with the guys during the game and postgame, we didn’t have the extra pop in our legs that we needed to create a few more chances,” Bednar said. “We just didn’t execute the way we’re capable of, that last 10% of execution that we needed to create the scoring chances.”

The rematch, which took place on Tuesday, Feb. 16, brought a much-needed win. Sitting in fourth in a tight Western Division leaves little room for error, especially since only the top four teams from each division move on to the playoffs.

Avalanche fans should be excited, nonetheless. The team faces off against the Golden Knights again in Denver on Saturday, Feb. 20. Puck drop is set to take place at 1:00 p.m. MST.

As the season progresses, Avalanche fans will be worried either way. Their team has arguably the highest potential in the NHL to go the distance and bring another Stanley Cup to Denver. They have all the pieces together, now all they have to do is execute. For fans, the question remains as their team takes the ice each night: Are these the winning or washed Aves?

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