Colorado Avalanche Need Nathan MacKinnon to Start Scoring

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14: Nathan MacKinnon
DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 14: Nathan MacKinnon /

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon needs to get the scoring started if the team wants to continue having success this season.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon has not had a great start to his season. He’s seventh on the team for scoring with zero goals and four assists.

This is unfortunate. MacKinnon has been tapped as the Avalanche’s franchise player. He’s one of only two players GM Joe Sakic tapped as “untouchable,” meaning the team won’t even entertain offers for him in trade. (The other untouchable is Mikko Rantanen.)

Players have slow starts. I’m not going to say MacKinnon should just hang up his skates and we should declare the season a wash.

MacKinnon has been getting his chances. He’s on the top line with consistent linemates, Rantanen and Sven Andrighetto (who leads the team in scoring, tied with Matt Duchene). Except for the game of that scary eye injury, MacKinnon skates about 18:30 a night, which is top minutes for a forward. He’s tapped for both the power play and the penalty kill.

We all know what MacKinnon’s strengths are. First and foremost, he’s speedy. He’s got a lot of agility in how he skates. He’s got good hands, which comes in handy both for setting up plays and finishing. And he’s made great strides in his defensive play.

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This is the player the Colorado Avalanche chose first-overall in 2013 — the only player they’ve chosen first-overall. He’s the highest paid player on the team. And he wears the A for alternate captain.

Right now, even without MacKinnon scoring, the Avalanche are 4-2-0. That’s a really good start, especially for a team that finished with just 48 points last year. Last season MacKinnon led the team in scoring with 53 points (16 goals, 37 assists).

Right now the 22-year-old center has a positive Corsi For with 51%, though he’s had higher. His relative Corsi is 2.7, which is also positive, but he’s had higher.

A couple games ago, Mike Chambers of the Denver Post pointed out that MacKinnon was “doing everything but scoring.” He’s making some good plays, and his four assists leads the team in that category. He also led the team in scoring in the preseason with four goals.

He said of the situation:

"“I think the goals will come. I’ve had some good chances. I’ll start to get the bounces. Everyone else is getting those bounces right now and I’m just happy to be part of it. The game feels good. It’s all about the team winning and if the assists are going to get the job done, then I’m happy with that. At the end of the day, wins take care of everything.”"

Part of the problem might be that he’s not shooting the puck like he usually does. In previous season, MacKinnon always leads the team in shots on goal. This season, he has only 10 — the team leader is Tyson Barrie with 21. Defenseman Tyson Barrie.

MacKinnon should probably look into shooting more. That’s worked for him in the past. And as Wayne Gretzky famously said, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. That’s a man who should know about scoring.

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Nathan MacKinnon has the skills and talent to be the team leader in scoring. He’s being given the chances The Colorado Avalanche have placed their fate at least a little on Nathan MacKinnon’s shoulders.  If we want to see continued success for the team, MacKinnon needs to have a strong season — and it should probably start sooner rather than later.