It has been a long four years for the Colorado Avalanche and their fans, but over the weekend, the Avs did something that showed the light at the end of the tunnel for fans.

They qualified for the playoffs.

The last time the Avs were in, it was goalie Craig Anderson and rookie head coach Joe Sacco leading the team; this time, it’s goalie Semyon Varalmov and rookie head coach Patrick Roy doing the honors.

Varlamov is tied for the NHL lead in wins with 37. Last year he led the NHL in losses. The 25-year-old net minder is putting together one of the best seasons in franchise history, and is staring down his head coach’s franchise record of 40 wins in a season. Varlamov is making a strong case for the Vezina trophy as the league’s top goaltender, but he’s not the only Avs player chasing some hardware.

Ryan O’Reilly entered last season on a contract holdout. O’Reilly wanted $5 million a year, while Colorado was willing to pay him $3.5 million. Both sides were stubborn, and O’Reilly missed 19 of the team’s 48 games last year because of it. Ultimately O’Reilly got his wish, thanks to signing an offer sheet with the Calgary Flames that the Avs matched, but the whole ordeal left a bad taste in fan’s mouths.

This year, O’Reilly has proved his worth. He has 58 points in 72 games this season, leads the league in takeaways, and just took his first penalty of the year in game 72. Numbers like that have helped fans not only forget about last season’s debacle, but have put him in contention for the Lady Byng trophy for the best combination of sportsmanship, gentlemanly play, and high quality of play, as well as for the Selke trophy for the best defensive forward.

Then there are the locks. Nathan MacKinnon is going to win the Calder trophy for rookie of the year. He has without a doubt been the best rookie this season. And of course, the head coach Patrick Roy is going to win the Jack Adams trophy for best head coach.

There is a lot to be excited about with this Avalanche team, but mostly it is that they’re heading back to the playoffs! Fans are flocking back to the Pepsi Center. Come playoff time, tune into a game. You won’t regret it, and you might just witness something you’ll never forget.