The Colorado Avalanche deserve some credit for scrapping all season to make the playoffs with such a young team and an improbable cast of characters. But last night, reality caught up with them, as the Avs were blanked 5-0, giving the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 series lead and a chance to win it Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. The Avalanche struggled to put any offense together and seemed to play with the distinct lack of verve that portends collapse in NHL playoff hockey.

Mile High Hockey offers a game recap full of missed opportunities, bone-headed penalties, and a looming disaster: “The Avalanche are in trouble. They have no offense, they are taking way too many dumb penalties, and the Sharks are not getting penalties at all.”

The San Francisco Chronicle notes that the Avs look tired. If the season does end Saturday night, the hometown crowd will still have plenty to cheer about, with young players like T.J. Galiardi, Ryan O’Reilly, and Paul Stastny making up a solid nucleus to build upon for the future. Goalie Craig Anderson has shown he has super-human talent, but it’s clear the Avalanche need to get a quality backup so he doesn’t have to play 70 games in the regular season.

And then there’s Matt Duchene, the Avs’ main draft pick before the 2010 season. Duchene had an excellent rookie campaign and is now a finalist for the NHL’s Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie, reports Fox News. Based on his 24 goals and 55 points, he has a good chance to win the award when the Professional Hockey Writers Association votes at the end of the season.