Woody Paige: Filip is the Forsberg the Avs let get away, and he hurt them Thursday night

Woody Paige: Filip is the Forsberg the Avs let get away, and he hurt them Thursday night
Posted at 3:18 PM, Apr 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-13 17:18:59-04

Filip Forsberg is not related, but he sure played like Peter on Thursday night.

Foppa II scored two goals – the second a vision of beauty and mastery – in the third period to propel the Predators over the Avalanche in the first April playoff game for a Denver professional team since 2014.

The Avalanche rushed out to 1-0 and 2-1 leads with exuberance, enthusiasm, excitement, energy and several other “e” words. And a “d” word – defense.

Ultimately, though, another “e” word – experience – made the difference for the Preds against the Avs.

And double “F.”

The sweet Swede was a description reserved solely for Peter Forsberg from his rookie season in 1994 with the old Quebec Nordiques, through 10 years (including a return) in Colorado, a couple of seasons in Philly and, yes, a brief moment (17 games) with the Predators with 2006-2007.

His home country put out a stamp featuring Peter’s likeness to honor his Olympic gold medal-winning goal.

Forsberg was Rudolf Nureyev on ice – with intricate ballet moves, scintillating no-look passes, wraparound goals and a fiery nature on defense not normally associated with a European goal scorer.

Peter The Great ended his Hall of Fame career with 755 points – 217 goals and 538 assists. He would have finished with considerably more goals, but Forsberg preferred being a point forward. And Butch Cassidy (Joe Sakic) and The Sundance Kid (Forsberg) – who once posed for photos in the garb of the two famous Western outlaws – led the Avalanche to two Stanley Cups that have sadly seeped back into memories.

But these Avs, the youngest conglomeration of talent in the NHL, sneaked into the playoffs at the end of the season with a victory over the Blues, and are confronting the No. 1 seed and Cup contender.

There is hope that what came around in the 1990s and 2000s will be coming back again with Nate MacKinnon and the Mod Squad.

In the meantime, though, the name Forsberg prominently pops into a postseason involving the Avalanche.

Some immediately wonder if Peter and Filip are cousins, uncle and nephew or distance relatives. Nope.

But the 23-year-old Filip, and his brother who is in the minors, certainly watched and idolized Peter when they were growing up in Ostervala, Sweden.

“Foppa” was an unusual nickname for Peter, but it was a shortened version of his last name. Filip is filling the Foppa role well.

His through-the-legs pass to himself was brilliant and made the score 4-2, and completed the pretense that the Avs might steal Game 1.

The Predators added a meaningless empty-netter, and Forsberg, who had given Nashville its first lead earlier in the third period, definitely was the No. 1 star for the Predators and No. 1 villain for Avs’ fanatics.

During a Q&A on Twitter Thursday, I was asked about the game and the series: “Nashville 4-2, and Avs will win a couple of games at home.” I was close on the first prediction, and will be spot-on with the second. The Avalanche showed they can play Big Boy Pants hockey. This postseason isn’t over after just one game, but just wait until next season. It should be remembered that the Avs are missing their goalie and their best veteran defender.

Bizarre story about Filip Forsberg and Semyon Varlamov, though.

In July 2011, the Avalanche traded their No. 1 draft choice, and a second pick, to the Washington Caps for the goaltender.

With the 11th pick in the draft, which had belonged to the Avs, the Caps chose Filip Forsberg.

Would the Avs have selected Forsberg?  Imagine the headline. Would the Avs rather have Varlamov or Forsberg? Varlamov might have been needed Thursday night, although his replacement played extremely well for more than two periods.  The Predators needed Forsberg. They might not have won.

In a surprising move in 2013, the Caps traded the young Forsberg to the Predators for a couple of guys.

He made the all-rookie team, was an All-Star by 2015, and has become Nashville’s top scorer and hat-trick king. He had three in one game with the Avalanche. In last year’s postseason Filip produced 9 goals and 7 assists as the Predators lost to the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals.

He’s the Forsberg who got away.

Prince Filip could have been with the Avalanche. Instead, Forsberg, a name from the Avs’ past, could be the cause of their demise.