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DENVER (AP) Nathan MacKinnon’s name frequently gets mentione

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 15, 2019 2:10 am Post subject: No icon DENVER (AP) Nathan MacKinnon’s name frequently gets mentione Reply with quote

among the best players in the game this season.That’s flattering and certainly appreciated and very understandable – the Colorado Avalanche forward is among the points leaders – but it’s not really a surprise.Least of all to him.”I expect it Marcus Foligno Jersey ,” MacKinnon said without a trace of arrogance. ”This feels normal.”The former No. 1 overall pick and rookie of the year who trains in the summer with Sidney Crosby has taken his game to another level. With a blend of speed and savvy to go with a pinpoint shot, MacKinnon’s blossomed into one of the league’s top scorers with 33 goals and 49 assists.His rise has helped put the Avalanche into playoff position a season after finishing last in the NHL. They’re currently holding on to a wild-card spot with 13 games remaining.”Playoffs are my goal and everybody’s goal on this team,” said the 22-year-old MacKinnon, who was the top pick in 2013. ”With us making the playoffs comes personal success. It shows that being a good team helps everybody.”The All-Star center recently became the first Avalanche player to eclipse the 80-point mark since 2006-07, when Hall of Fame forward turned front office executive Joe Sakic (100 points) and Andrew Brunette (83) accomplished the feat.”I didn’t expect to get 80,” said MacKinnon, whose previous high point total was 63 in 2013-14, when he won rookie of the year and Colorado last made the postseason. ”It’s not really about the numbers. It’s about how I’m playing and how I’m doing it. I’m trying to focus on what I can control and that’s how I play.”MacKinnon leads the Avalanche in virtually every offensive statistic – scoring (82 points), points per game (1.34), game-winning goals (10), power-play goals (12) and shots (227). He’s also up there in another category: Sticking up for linemates, which was on display last weekend when he dropped the gloves against Arizona after taking exception to a hit on Mikko Rantanen.His teammates applauded the move. So did his coach, Jared Bednar, with one caveat: Don’t do that again.”He’s such a big part of our club that there’s too much at risk there,” Bednar said.MacKinnon has been especially difficult to contain at the Pepsi Center, where he leads the league in home scoring with 59 points. It’s the most home points by an Avalanche player since Sakic had 67 in 2000-01.”For him to be doing what he’s doing and establish himself as one of the best players in the league http://www.minnesotawildteamshops.com/authentic-matt-dumba-jersey , it’s something special,” defenseman Tyson Barrie said. ”He’s really turned the corner this year and developed. It’s going to be scary to see what he can do.”His fellow linemates Rantanen and captain Gabriel Landeskog have played an integral role. They’ve been paired together for most of the season and have a combined 201 points between them.They’ve developed such a cohesive connection that it’s hard to break them up. Case in point: When MacKinnon sat out eight games in early February with a shoulder injury, Landeskog and Rantanen combined for one goal.”He’s always had skill,” Landeskog said. ”Now, he’s getting rewarded for it.”Another part of MacKinnon’s success can be attributed to all the time he’s spent in the offseason working out with Crosby, his favorite player growing up.”He pushes me,” said MacKinnon, who’s joined the Pittsburgh standout on the ice for the last five or so summers. ”You can’t find a better workout partner than him.”Ask MacKinnon about his golf game – his other obsession – and he just grins. He jokes that he hits about as many golf balls on the range as he does pucks into the net during practice.”Not really, but I definitely do hit a lot,” said the Halifax, Nova Scotia, product who became third-youngest Colorado/Quebec player to reach 100 career goals on Feb. 20. ”I think it’s cool how you’re on your own in golf and against yourself. There’s no one stopping you. It’s all on you.”He was bitten by the golf bug as a rookie, when he was taken to the course by Barrie and former teammate Ryan O’Reilly . At first, it wasn’t pretty.”He was just awful,” Barrie recalled. ”It was tough to watch.”MacKinnon took lessons, frequented the driving range and played nearly every day during the offseason. Now Mikael Granlund Jersey , he’s a four-handicap.”He’s really turned into a good player,” Barrie said. ”It’s been frustrating for me.”There’s another big-time golfer in the Avalanche organization as well – Sakic. On occasion, MacKinnon has been known to join his boss for a round.So, who gets the better of whom on the links?”We have some good matches,” MacKinnon coyly responded. ”He’s a really good golfer.”— After a strong start under new coach Ken Hitchcock, the Edmonton Oilers are proving to be a work in progress.With the league’s Christmas break in the rearview mirror, the Oilers have to figure out how to squeeze more production out of every player, starting with Thursday’s matchup against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Place.In the first 3 1/2 weeks under Hitchcock, Edmonton (18-15-3) picked up 20 of a possible 26 points, but the Oilers slumped recently.With a 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday, the Oilers have been outscored 14-6 during a three-game skid. The club also surrendered five power-play goals during that span, including three in a 4-2 loss at Vancouver on Dec. 16.Article continues below ...Lack of consistent production from players other than Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson combined with injuries to defensemen Oscar Klefbom and Kris Russell have contributed to Edmonton’s slide.“We’re going to have to figure out who’s helping and who’s hurting for us to get to another level,” Hitchcock said. “We can’t keep doing it the same way over and over because it’s not going to work.”One core player — and a Stanley Cup winner — believes the team needs to show more mental toughness.“This group has to learn how to play in close games,” said Chiasson Youth Mikko Koivu Jersey , who won a championship with the Washington Capitals last summer before joining the Oilers in October. “If you want to be a playoff team, a team that has the chance to go deep, you have to learn how to play down one goal and stick with it for 60 minutes.”Chiasson is third on the team with a career-best 16 goals, including four in his last five games.Edmonton has won four straight and is 6-0-1 in its last seven at home against the Canucks.Vancouver (17-18-4) kicks off a six-game road trip looking to continue its strong play away from home. After six consecutive road losses in November, the Canucks went 3-0-1, including a win over the Columbus Blue Jackets and a point against the Nashville Predators.Travis Green’s team comes off a 1-0 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. After his team took three of five on the homestand, Green offered praise.“I like the way our team is progressing. I like the way they are playing. I wish we had a few more wins, I think we easily could,” he told the team’s official website.Vancouver is 10th in the Western Conference, but Green also points to a culture change for a club long linked to now-retired twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin and that hasn’t been to the postseason since 2013.“We’re still young in a lot of areas. Sometimes that shows. We’re in it right now. We’re playing to win,” Green said. “Our guys are believing in themselves. We talk about playing fast and hard and playing with confidence, and they are.” The team features young stars in Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat, who has scored 12 of his 17 goals this season on the road.However, rookie Elias Petterson may be the best of the bunch.The 20-year-old winger has points in eight of 11 games this month, including his second five-point effort on Dec. 9 in a rout of the St. Louis Blues.Petterson leads all rookies in goals (17) and assists (19). No other first-year player has more than 23 points.One of Petterson’s five game-winning goals came against the Oilers this month.
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