Have you seen The Flower Wither?
Four months too late, but whatever. Ten minutes into the season, Marc-André Fleury was shaking his head, spanked by a 20-year-old, led 3-0 at Ball Arena and searching for the reset button on the PlayStation.
Bo Byram made The Flower feel bad.
Man, did that smell good.
“Obviously this is something you’ve been dreaming of for a long time,” Byram said with a smile late Wednesday night after scoring the third goal, his first in an Avs jersey, during a 4-2 victory over Chicago in the season opener. “And (it’s) just as well to get it out of the way. Release the pressure.
The pressure on Avs to settle its old scores, meanwhile, has only just begun. Wednesday was a good start, however, as the hosts put three leads over Fleury, who was making his regular-season debut with the Blackhawks after years tormenting the Avalanche as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights.
“It’s always special to beat him,” new Avs goaltender Darcy Kuemper said of his counterpart in the other chamber.
Byram then added a pass on a Nazem Kadri tap-in, finishing with a plus-2 in just 17:23 on the ice. Cale Makar stuff.
Even the old people were in awe. Gray-bearded Avs defenseman Jack Johnson who landed a one-year contract last Sunday was in the game opener rotation as cover for injured Devon Toews.
Now he’s the answer to a trivial question, marking the first of what will be many, many, many, many, numerous Avs goals this season on a magnificent breakaway backhand less than five minutes after the start of the slope.
“Age is just a number,” said Johnson, 34, later. “I am young at heart.”
Byram, meanwhile, is just… young. According to the TSN gang, at 20 years and 122 days, the Avs defenseman became the third youngest defenseman in Colorado / Nordics history to score a game-winning goal.
“I was thrilled for him,” Johnson said of Byram. “Every time I see a guy score his first NHL goal, it’s something that will be remembered for the rest of his life.
As in black and blue.
Whenever the Blackhawks wanted to dance, the Avs were there. Logan O’Connor got angry towards the end of the first period. With 3:34 to go in the third, Captain Gabe Landeskog rammed a kneeling Kirby Dach into the boards, a questionable barge at the speed of play it looked even worse in replay. It all broke loose, with Mikko Rantanen and Blackhawks defenseman Calvin de Haan adding spice to the undercard.
“I think it was a fun game,” Byram said. “And we did a really good job there. ”
Super Joe Sakic knows a tiger shark when he sees one. Half a dozen Avs are 24 or younger. Maybe Johnson is the sort of random veteran, out of left field, who helps push kids through the marathons ahead.
“I mean it’s the NHL, it’s a tough league to play,” Byram continued. “I think I did a good job last year, but this year I really want to take a step forward and assert myself. It was a good step in the right direction. But I still have a long way to go.
The story too. But if more nights land like this, the trip might end up becoming almost as fun as the destination. Almost.