DENVER (CBS4) – It’s hard to believe that a Colorado Avalanche team that finished last in the NHL a year ago has become a force in the Western Conference. CBS4’s Tom Helmer talked with center Matt Duchene and forward Gabriel Landeskog about the team’s turnaround.
“I think last year and even the year before this was the time of the year where you weren’t sure of what was going to happen and how long you were going to be here in Denver,” said Landeskog, the youngest player to ever become team captain. “But I think for us now, we know that the playoffs are coming, and coming in hot.
“We’re certainly excited and it’s a totally different feel in the city and people are supporting us and really wearing their Avs gear around town, and it’s certainly great to see.”
First-year head coach Patrick Roy said at the beginning of the season that the Avs were a playoff team that will compete for the Stanley Cup. A lot of fans thought it wouldn’t be this year, but it was certainly a team that could develop. Helmer asked Duchene if the players bought in right away to what their coach was saying.
“For me … and I think I can speak for a lot of the guys, Day 1 of camp it was different. I could tell we weren’t going to be an underachieving team anymore. We were going to be an overachieving team, if anything, and live up to our potential,” Duchene said. “We have so much potential on this team from top to bottom.
“We weren’t going to be hitting the golf course early this year, that’s for sure.”
Duchene has been to the postseason, but for Landeskog, it’s uncharted ice.
“You only hear people talking about it and I’ve seen numerous years of playoff hockey on TV,” Landeskog said. “I’m sick and tired of watching it on TV. I’m ready to get in there.”
Duchene said he remembered the season ending last year and watching playoff hockey on TV. He said he would have given anything to have a shot at playing in one round.
“We’re going to get that here shortly and hopefully even be able to go further,” he said.
The Avs are a young team and don’t have playoff experience. Helmer asked them if they need playoff experience to go on and win the Cup.
“I don’t think so, not necessarily. If you look back historically, sure, every team has made one or two runs before they go and win it. But I think, ‘Why not be the first team that doesn’t?’ “ Landeskog said. “We might as well do what we can to get there and it starts with finishing off the season the right way … I don’t think we see anything stopping us.”
“You look at the Black Hawks in 2010; you look at the Seahawks this year in the NFL. Those are two young teams that won. They didn’t have the experience … the Black Hawks had a little, the Seahawks had a little as well, but nobody thought that team would do what they did to Denver in the (Super Bowl),” Duchene said. “We were sad to see it, but what a great team that was – their youth and exuberance, their energy.
“I like that team because I kind of relate them to us, because even though they’re young, I think they’re wise beyond their years and mature beyond their years. And that’s where I see us right now.”
Both players agree the team is confident they can get it done.
– By Matthew J. Buettner, CBSDenver.com