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Tag: Nathan MacKinnon

Postseason Loss To Golden Knights Still Fresh To Nathan MacKinnon

When the Golden Knights lost to the Montreal Canadiens in the conference finals last season it left a bitter taste in the mouths of the players and coaches. Go ahead and throw the fans in the mix as well, they were spitting out Bleu, Blanc, and Rouge all summer long. Clearly ending on a low note leaves plenty of room for motivation going into the next season. However, that goes for most teams in the NHL and especially one that lost in meltdown style.

No, I don’t need to (go back and watch the Vegas series). It was more of a mental thing than a physical thing for us and for me too. We got a little hesitant. –Nathan MacKinnon on 32 Thoughts Podcast

After the first two games of last season’s second round series, most Vegas fans feared the worst. Colorado looked to be the better team, were getting the lucky bounces and had won six playoff games in a row. With only two losses remaining before another season was cut short the Golden Knights woke up and stormed back to clinch the series in six games. It was by far the finest moment of Vegas’ 2021 season and one of the best in franchise history.

On the losing side of the handshake line, the Avalanche were shell-shocked. They believed their skill and speed would get them into the conference finals, especially when they were holding a two games to love lead. Learning now, Colorado wasn’t as comfortable as we may have thought after Game 2.

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Superhero Nathan MacKinnon Has Met His Villain

Every great superhero must have a competent villain. As Alfred Hitchcock said, “the more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.”

In this series, the superhero is Nathan MacKinnon. I’d list off all his accolades, but this is a VGK website, so if you really need to know them, Google it. But I will offer up some stats.

MacKinnon has played in 49 playoff games, he has amassed 67 points in them, good for an average of 1.37 per game. He’s scored at least one point in 34 of the 49 games and has multiple points in 20 of them. In the Avs First Round sweep of the Blues, MacKinnon posted six goals and three assists, more than two points per game.

Then, his villain showed up.

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

No, the villain isn’t the Golden Knights. It’s not a specific line from Vegas, and it’s not even Selke candidate Mark Stone. Instead, it’s the guy standing behind the Golden Knights bench, Pete DeBoer.

After Game 1, when MacKinnon exploded for two goals and an assist to arrive in the series with a true superhero entrance, he’s gone quiet over the past four games, and completely silent in the last three. 0 points in three games.

(Insert creepy laugh from DeBoer)

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“Run It Until They Stop It”: VGK’s Plan To Continue Stopping Colorado’s Top Line

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

After the Golden Knights won a crucial Game 3 against the Avalanche, we pointed out the strong performance by the Golden Knights top line’s compared to the highly touted Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen line. It’s only gotten worse since for the Avalanche’s best players.

They’re frustrated for sure. -Jared Bednar, COL coach

The Golden Knights top-six have outplayed, outproduced, and outworked the Avalanche’s top performers for the past three games. Vegas’ impact players have held the MacKinnon trio to just four points since their eight-point explosion in Game 1. In the following nine periods, Vegas allowed only one goal from Colorado’s big three.

MacKinnon/Landeskog/Rantanen Line vs. VGK

Game 1: 8 Points (5 Goals, 3 Assists)
Nathan MacKinnon 2 Goals, 1 Assist
Gabriel Landeskog 2 Goals, 1 Assist
Mikko Rantanen 1 Goal, 1 Assist

Game’s 2-4: 4 Points (2 Goals, 2 Assists)
Nathan MacKinnon 0 Goals, 1 Assist
Gabriel Landeskog 0 Goals, 1 Assist
Mikko Rantanen 2 Goals, 0 Assists

It’s tough checking, especially for those guys. They’re not just dealing with one line, they’re dealing with multiple lines. People saying, ‘well you got to get them away from the Stone, Stephenson and Pacioretty line’ but then they got the Karlsson line who’s doing equally as good a job. There’s some heavy lifting there and we haven’t found a way. -Bednar, COL coach

Once the series shifted to Las Vegas, Colorado’s stars went dark. Landeskog failed to register a shot on net, MacKinnon was -3, and Rantanen hasn’t recorded an assist. A pretty stark difference from the 5.00 goals scored per game the Avalanche averaged in their first five postseason games. Execution, momentum, and will shifted when the Golden Knights hit home ice.

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VGK’s Top-Line “Phenomenal” Against MacKinnon And Colorado’s Best

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

To beat the Colorado Avalanche, you must neutralize their top line. The trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Gabriel Landeskog scored 70 goals and tallied 183 points in the 56-game regular season. Since the playoffs have begun, they’ve actually upped their pace with 16 goals and 36 assists in seven games.

In the three games against the Golden Knights, the Avs best have scored seven goals and added five more assists. If that continues through the series, the Golden Knights have little to no chance to come back and win. But, when we break the numbers down a bit, Vegas have actually had much more success against the Colorado top line recently and it’s the main reason they have a chance to even the series in Game 4.

I haven’t seen the stats, but go ahead and check the numbers on our top guys tonight and see what they did compared to their top guys. It’s not close. -Jared Bednar, COL coach (after Game 3)

In Game 3, Vegas’ top line shared the ice with MacKinnon for a little more than 10 minutes. The Golden Knights outshot the Avs 7-3, they outchanced Colorado 11-4, held the Avalanche’s best to zero high-danger chances while creating six, and most importantly, scored the game-winning goal.

Digging deeper, the numbers have been that way the entire series, even during the terrible Game 1. To simplify, we’ll look just at the centers playing against MacKinnon, but the numbers are similar for each of their lines as a whole.

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Film Breakdown: Nathan MacKinnon’s “Office” At The Blue Line

Nathan MacKinnon is a superstar in the NHL and the Golden Knights must always be aware of him on the ice. An uncommon wrinkle to his game is something Vegas must be especially keen of.

In this film breakdown, I take a look at exactly how the Avalanche get MacKinnon to a dangerous place on the ice with the puck and how difficult it is to defend.

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What Do The Avalanche Think Of Playing The Golden Knights In The Playoffs?

Has there ever been a more fitting picture for an article on this site? I think not. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Like we asked after the Minnesota Wild game, we posed the same question to the Colorado Avalanche. How does your team matchup against the Golden Knights in a seven game series?

I think it would be a good matchup. I think it would be a fun series. In the playoffs anything can happen.  -Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Captain

The Captain was diplomatic and carefully didn’t give out any bulletin board material. His frustrated teammate however…

I think it’s pretty even. They came out buzzing in the third, but I thought for the first two periods of 5-on-5 we did a good job. Yeah, hopefully we do see them in the first round. I think we match up pretty well against them. -Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Forward

The Hart candidate followed up with why he believes playing the Golden Knights in the first-round would be a good draw for the Avalanche.

Yeah, it’s not a super physical game from either team. I think it’s exciting hockey to watch. I think in Denver it was a fun game to watch and being here is another entertaining game. It’s a lot of off the rush stuff and a lot of speed. -MacKinnon

Avs coach Jared Bednar initially spit out a whole bunch of nonsense coach speak, but we eventually got him talking Golden Knights.

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