Talk about coming in hot.
The Colorado Avalanche have made their presence felt in the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs, and we are only 2 games into the Conference Quarterfinal round. The Avalanche will be heading to St. Paul, MN for Game 3 on Monday, April 21st while in complete control of the series, 2-0.
Through the first two games, the Avalanche have followed the lead of their top line, featuring rookie phenom Nathan MacKinnon, 21-year-old captain Gabe Landeskog, and the University of Denver alum Paul Stastny.
There is nothing the Minnesota Wild can do to slow down that line right now. Sure, on two of the three highlight worthy goals the Avs had tonight, it was Jared Spurgeon who was victimized by Nathan MacKinnon, but the first of two goals scored by Gabe Landeskog tonight had their $98 million man, Ryan Suter, as the victim. MacKinnon cut in front of him and played a perfect drop pass for Landeskog who buried it near-side on Ilya Bryzgalov.
Nathan MacKinnon has been nothing short of extraordinary in his first two games in the NHL playoffs. In just two games, MacKinnon has put up 7 points (1 highlight reel goal, shown below, to go along with 6 assists), which ties him for most points in NHL history through a player’s first two playoff games. Every time MacKinnon has touched the puck through the first two games of this series with Minnesota, the energy level in the Pepsi Center instantly becomes electric.
The line of Mackinnon, Landeskog, and Stastny combined for 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in Game 2 alone. Over the course of the series so far, they have combined for 17 points (7 goals, 10 assists). If Minnesota hopes to see the ice at Pepsi Center again – which it is very possible they don’t really want to – they will have to find some way to slow down this line while playing at home in the Xcel Energy Center.
To this point in the playoffs, there has not been a line that has appeared to be as deadly as this unit put together by Patrick Roy. They were not together at the start of Game 1, as Roy had Jamie McGinn playing on the wing with Stastny and Landeskog with MacKinnon playing on line two with Ryan O’Reilly and PA Parenteau. That seemed to be the spark that has set this Avalanche team off and running. MacKinnon had 3 assists in Game 1, including one on the game-tying goal by Stastny, and one on Stastny’s overtime winner.
Imagine how scary this team will be once they have their leading scorer from the regular season, Matt Duchene, back in the fold. This team is determined and primed for a deep Stanley Cup Playoffs run.