The Colorado Avalanche returned to the ice Monday morning for the first time since wrapping up its Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild on Saturday.
While the Avs don’t know who their next opponent will be or when they will play again, one thing is certain: Colorado will be one of eight teams remaining in the hunt for the Stanley Cup when the conference semifinals begin later this week.
Colorado’s opponent in the second round of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs hinges on the winner of Tuesday’s Game Seven between the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks. With a San Jose victory, the Avalanche would be matched up against the Detroit Red Wings. If Calgary is victorious, Colorado will face Dallas in the second round.
While many factors played a part in the Avalanche’s success against Minnesota, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say Jose Theodore’s performance between the pipes was the most important of all.
In finishing off the Wild in six games, Theodore posted a 1.88 goals-against average and a .940 save percentage and effectively stole Game Five in St. Paul with a 38-save performance.
“This series (against Minnesota) was really tough, so now I think a couple days to rest a little bit, the timing’s perfect,” said Theodore, who also mentioned that he’s not changing his approach during the playoffs. “This time of the year, I’m not really changing what I’ve been doing since January. I just keep doing the same things.”
While Theodore seems a tad uncomfortable when comparisons to legendary Avs netminder Patrick Roy are brought up, he opens up again when judging his recent play against his Hart Trophy campaign of 2001-02.
“Obviously it’s more reasonable, but I really do feel like I have more experience now,” said Theodore. “I don’t feel like I’m more in the zone now than I was the last couple of months. I’m just working hard and playing the way I expect myself to play.”
Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville continues to be impressed by Theodore’s work ethic and how the netminder has continued to improve since the start of the regular season.
“Elite players have that motivation internally where they want to be the best at all times,” said Quenneville. “The process he’s gone through is pretty remarkable, to see him return and be at that level now where he feels very good about himself. His game is certainly at the level where he’d like it to be and we’re very pleased with it.”
Quenneville also touched on how he’s preparing his club for the Western Conference Semifinals without yet knowing its opponent. Is he trying to ready his team for Dallas, Detroit, or both?
“I think we’re doing a little bit of both,” said Quenneville. “We’ll visit with both scenarios as we go. We’ll wait to see what happens, and obviously we’ll watch the (Calgary at San Jose) game with some interest tomorrow night as well.”