Colorado Avalanche: Success without Duchene and MacKinnon

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Dec 7, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog (92) collides with Minnesota Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper (35) in a overtime period at Pepsi Center. The Colorado Avalanche defeated the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Leadership Steps Up

The Colorado Avalanche had to play the game against the Calgary Flames without captain Gabriel Landeskog because he was serving the last game of his suspension for cross checking Anaheim Ducks forward Simon Depres. Colorado got him back for the Edmonton Oilers, and he made an immediate impact.

He started the scoring:

What’s more, he played with the intensity and skill you want to see in your hockey captain, especially in the face of adversity. As coach Roy said more than once after the Edmonton game, Landeskog’s line (with Blake Comeau and Carl Soderberg) was the best on the ice.

Though he doesn’t wear a letter, defenseman Erik Johnson has also been showing a lot of leadership. He’s been a nigh unstoppable force since the Anaheim Ducks game, recording two goals and two assists in five games. He’s also been integral in stopping opponents’ top lines — his defense is solid. No question he’s the leader of the blueline.

Now would be a great time, though, for both of Landeskog’s alternate captains to ramp up their games. While Iginla has been making plays, he hasn’t scored a goal himself in eight games. He has just 19 on the season, which is the worst since his sophomore season, 1997-98. He really needs to find his scoring touch for the next two games — and beyond.

Cody McLeod, the other alternate captain, isn’t known for his scoring touch. What does need to happen is he needs to show leadership in his restraint. He cannot take undisciplined penalties. Instead, he needs to fight if necessary — ensuring his opponent is a better player. A better scenario would be for him to yap and instigate until he draws a penalty. That’s Cody’ McLeod’s touch, the game he needs to play for the final stretch of the season.

Next: Physicality