With this week representing a bit of a lull before the Broncos dive into NFL free agency, I thought I’d share some hot sports opinions on the other teams in town.
As of this writing, the Avs are second in their division, second in the Western Conference, fourth in the NHL and third in the NHL in goal differential. During their nationally televised game on Sunday in San Jose, the NBCSN announcers agreed this is a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. I second this!
Despite a slew of injuries, the Avs are on a 16-4-2 roll over their last 22-games. Young players have come in and contributed. Vladislav Namestnikov came over via trade and has made an immediate impact, scoring goals in three of his last four games. The captain, Gabe Landeskog, seems determined to lead this team by example with six goals in his last 10 games. Head coach Jared Bednar has everyone buying into a system of solid, disciplined, “know your role” hockey.
The only question I have is what happens when injured players like Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, Matt Calvert, Andre Burakovsky, Cale Makar and Philipp Grubauer all return around the start of the playoffs. On the surface, it seems like a good problem to have. But will it mess with the chemistry this current group has built? Again, not the worst of problems to face.
This team better be careful. While they have screwed around, losing to a dozen teams they have no business falling to, the standings in the Western Conference have gotten tight. The difference between the third seed and the seventh seed is just four games.
Denver could have a potential first-round matchup where they wouldn’t have home-court advantage – something that was inconceivable just a few weeks ago. The schedule coming up is incredibly daunting. The Nuggets have the toughest remaining schedule of any Western Conference playoff team.
The issues with this team are becoming alarmingly obvious. Jamal Murray remains maddeningly inconsistent and his numbers from last year to this year show only the slightest of improvement. Denver has yet to identify a reliable third scorer. They need someone who come playoff time can go off for 25 to 30 points. There is no one on this roster.
I know Michael Porter, Jr. has his zealots, but come on. Porter has potential. Loads of it. But he barely played in college, didn’t play last year and even if he was given more consistent minutes by Coach Malone the likelihood of him becoming a consistent source of scoring in his first exposure to the playoffs is both terribly unfair to him and entirely unrealistic.
Add to that a miscalculation of trading Malik Beasley and Juancho Hernangomez, which stripped them of needed outside shooting and chemistry, and you have a team that will likely be eliminated in round two yet again.
So is everyone getting excited about the BBBT? What’s that you ask? Why, it’s the “Bridich Bounce Back Theory.” Designed by Rockies general manager Jeff Bridich, it is truly brilliant.
Instead of doing anything during this offseason to improve a team that went 71-91 last year, Bridich is counting on every player who under-achieved last season to “bounce back” to some of their best seasons ever.
For example, Daniel Murphy hit .279 with 13 home runs and 78 inconsequential RBIs in 2019. No problem! This year, he’ll be the 2017 Daniel Murphy who went .322/23/93 for the Nationals. See how this goes? Ian Desmond .255/20/65 last year. This year, the 2016 Texas Rangers model who went .285/22/86. Isn’t this fun?
Wade Davis will bounce back. Kyle Freeland will bounce back. Bryan Shaw will, er, never mind, not even Bridich believes that miracle is possible.
Oh yeah, the BBBT also takes into account that every Rockies player who actually performed well last year will only get better! Genius! I’ll believe it when I see it. I’ll believe it if Nolan Arenado is still with this team after the All-Star break.
You really couldn’t blame CU coach Tad Boyle if he would’ve asked to freeze time on Saturday, Feb. 8. His Buffs had just rallied to beat Stanford at a rocking Coors Events Center (I know, I was there) to improve to 19-5 and 8-3 in the Pac-12. Boyle was getting pats on the back for being the anti-Mel Tucker. Boyle was professing his love for all things Boulder and everyone was feeling so lucky we had such a great coach who did everything right.
And then the wheels fell off.
The Buffs have gone 2-5 since, losing their last four in a row. They went from being a likely No. 3 to 5 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament to a squad that will likely land in the dreaded 7-10 range and who, could, gasp, find themselves on the March Madness bubble if they lose in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament.
This is a team that should be in the Sweet 16. This is not some rags-to-riches team. This is a program that has won 19 or more games four of the last five years. It is a roster made up from California, Las Vegas, New York and here in Colorado. This is a veteran team that makes up with experience what they may lack in blue chippers.
Shane Gatling has played in 100 games. Tyler Bey, McKinley Wright and D’Shawn Schwartz have all played in 98 games. Evan Battey is the most inexperienced and he’s played in 67. With that kind of continuity and the (supposed) coaching acumen of Boyle, this team should not be limping into the postseason.