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DENVER - As the season went along and the Colorado Avalanche kept winning and winning, they broadened their ambitions: From simply making the playoffs to accumulating 100 points to capturing a division title.

This youthful squad pretty much accomplished everything they set their minds to, even if "nobody expected to see us where we are," first-year coach Patrick Roy said.

A turnaround such as this was understandably a little hard to picture, considering a year ago Colorado finished last in the Western Conference.

The Avalanche not only matched a franchise record for wins (52), but secured the Central Division as they return to the postseason for the first time in four years. They host the Minnesota Wild in a best-of-seven series that begins Thursday.

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