Colorado Avalanche: Mikko Rantanen’s Play in Return

October 16, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) moves the puck ahead of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson (42) during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
October 16, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) moves the puck ahead of Anaheim Ducks defenseman Josh Manson (42) during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen played in his seventh NHL game this season last night, and his performance was ordinary. He definitely needs to pick up his play if he is going to add scoring depth.

The Colorado Avalanche lost their top two centers — and scorers — in the past two games, which is obvious news to this point.

When an NHL team loses their top two scorers, players have to step up, and often times they’ll try to find a player in the AHL that might be able to add a little depth to the scoring.

The Colorado Avalanche have called up Mikko Rantanen to fill that role, and he played in his seventh NHL game last night, after a 44 game 52 point stint in the AHL.

So, how did he play in his first game? Here’s a period by period look at his seventh NHL contest.

First Period

Well, he certainly had the jitters in the first period, but then again he only played 3:52 in the first period, so when he made mistakes, they were noticeable.

He also took a penalty, but it was definitely questionable — still the referees looked like they got it right.

Then, when he exited the box and took a nice pass from Erik Johnson, he was unable to hold onto the puck. He whiffed on a shot, then was definitely struggling behind the net with the puck until he eventually gave it up.

He also seemed to be struggling with the center position.

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Early in the period the Avs stole the puck from Edmonton in their own zone, and Rants skated up the right boards, almost running into Jack Skille until he realized he should be skating up center ice through the neutral.

Still, it was his first period as an NHL player in a while, and he was playing a position that is a bit out of his wheelhouse.

Last night’s game was also an important game, and there’s pressure when a young player is called up to add to scoring depth in the absence of the two top contributors to the team.

Mikko Rantanen was also able to shake off the first period jitters well.

Second Period

Mikko Rantanen had a real good second period, and was able to contribute to some zone time for his line, which eventually lead to Cody McLeod drawing a penalty.

Mikko Rantanen was playing simple, and making real smart decisions during the second period.

Early in the period, Rants made a simple poke-check up the boards to Skille, which would have been a nice opportunity had Skille not been crunched in the offensive zone.

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He also adjusted to center well, stealing the puck in front of his own net and immediately passing it to the neutral so that the Colorado Avalanche could get the puck deep.

With the Puck deep, Rantanen was the first to it, and could have drawn a penalty from Zach Kassian for tripping. Still, he was able to get the puck to McLeod who eventually drew a penalty from Kassian for roughing.

The Colorado Avalanche scored mere seconds after the power-play expired, which led to a 2-0 lead in a dominant second period performance.

Unfortunately, Mikko Rantanen did not have the best third period.

Third Period

Luckily the period was a bit better for the Colorado Avalanche, as they were able to pull away with the win thanks to Blake Comeau’s beautiful tip on the power-play.

Edmonton’s late empty net goal is only reason the game was 3-2 in retrospect…

Rants was on the ice for Edmonton’s early first period goal unfortunately, and he was way out of position as he was two high in the slot and left a man open on the back side of Calvin Pickard.

Still Patrick Roy gave his line ice time in small stints throughout the period until just before the six minute mark, when they didn’t hit the ice again, partly due to a penalty kill, and partly because of an empty net scenario.

Hopefully Rantanen picked up a few pointers from Gabe Landeskog that game because the captain returned with a glorious performance in his first game back from suspension:

One of the best goals Gabe Landeskog has ever had, plain and simple. That was a power-forward goal, and Rants could certainly learn a lot from how Landeskog dominated that shift.

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Unfortunately, Rantanen still ended up with another minus on his season, which puts his +/- rating at -6 in seven games this season. and those numbers don’t point to a player that is ready for the NHL because it is a good marker for five-on-five play.

Still, a the +/- stat is often viewed arbitrarily, so it has to be taken with a grain of salt.

The Colorado Avalanche play the Philadelphia Flyers on Mar. 24 next, right before they play the most important game of their season against the Minnesota Wild on Mar. 26.

By then, the Colorado Avalanche should have more a realistic prognosis on both Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene.