Avalanche Gameday: Leaning On Experience, MacKinnon’s Value

Colorado Hockey Now

It should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone that Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon is up for the Hart Trophy. Everyone saw it coming.

His teammates and coach certainly weren’t surprised.

“I don’t think there was any doubt he was going to be one of the finalists for that,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. “He’s been outstanding.”

MacKinnon didn’t speak after morning skate, as he was probably trying to focus on the task at hand tonight against the Dallas Stars, but his teammates had no issues talking about him. One common theme from all of them? It would be cool for Nate to win the Hart, but he’s got his eyes set on a bigger prize.

“He’s such a great player, he’s a big part of our team,” Devon Toews said. “It’s great when guys get accolades as well, but I think he’s worried about one trophy and that’s the one we’re chasing right now.”

If the Avalanche are going to get themselves another Stanley Cup ring, they’ll have to take down the Stars. The Jets were good in the regular season, but this team is an entirely different beast, at least in my opinion. They’re deep, they’re big, and they’re really talented. I expect this to be a tight series, and the Avalanche have to be prepared after a long layoff.

Luckily, they’ve done this before.

“Well, experience helps,” Mikko Rantanen said. “Two years ago, we had a couple long breaks and it’s more mental. I think obviously. it’s good physically. We get some rest, bumps and bruises you have, you can kind of get away from those. But mentally you have to be prepared because they obviously played two days ago. Mentally we have to be prepared right away to be physical and make smart decisions with the puck.”

Colorado is expected to make one lineup change, with Chris Wagner coming into the lineup for Nikolai Kovalenko.

“Stability,” Bednar said when I asked what they’re looking for with this move. “(Wagner) is a right-shot centerman that’s able to take draws. He understands our system. He played good games for us throughout the course of the year. So, kind of taking away a little bit of the guesswork. He’s a dependable guy. A physical guy, not scared of traffic … he’s got playoff experience.”

Alexandar Georgiev will start in net. He was at morning skate after missing practice on Monday.

Other News And Notes

  • Joel Kiviranta was on the ice, but in a non-contact jersey, so he will not be available tonight.
  • Gabriel Landeskog was out there again in a sweatshirt and track pants, playing coach and cheering the guys on ahead of Game One.
  • The Avalanche seem perfectly content to start the series on the road. They played well in Winnipeg, and will need to replicate that in Dallas.
    • “You’re playing against a team with a great crowd and everyone’s cheering against you, so it’s kind of fun,” Toews said.
  • I’ll have a CHN+ story likely tomorrow on the fourth line. They might be built differently than the one from 2022, but they might play just as big a role on this team if they want to win the Cup.
  • I will probably do a road blog again after this trip, but holy cow, the humidity here is out of control. I’ll take a dry heat any day.
PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com