Colorado Avalanche’s Crazy Nines Are Doing Fine

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 18: Nathan MacKinnon
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 18: Nathan MacKinnon /

The success of the Colorado Avalanche’s “Crazy Nines Line” is evident in how their chemistry has been lethal these last few games.

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Colorado Avalanche fans knew going in that this wasn’t going to be an easy season. With the Matt Duchene trade hanging over like the Sword of Damocles, a cast of uncertain rookies being thrown to the lions, and coach Jared Bednar being given another chance, things seemed destined to go wrong.

Sometimes you get a happy ending, or at least one that leaves you with a smile. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a season.

For a while it was the surprising chemistry of the still-in-Colorado Duchene with newcomers Nail Yakupov and Alexander Kerfoot, but while the latter two have stood their ground with their linemate gone, they have been displaced by another trio, in the form of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, and captain Gabriel Landeskog, one fans have been hoping would ignite some chemistry.

Get used to the “Crazy Nines Line,” because you may be seeing a lot of them.

The line — which takes its name from the 9’s that feature on each member’s jersey (and is in turn inspired by the Flyers’ “Crazy Eights Line” back in the early 90’s), has given the Avs that stability they lacked in the last couple of seasons, a line that they can call their top line. With outlier Duchene out of the picture, chemistry with Yak and Kerfoot or not, these three are the A-team.

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Landeskog has undergone a meteoric rise since his hat trick against Washington, proving himself the best player on the ice several times in any scenario. For example, in Saturday’s 5-2 loss against Nashville (marred by their 0-7 PP) he led the Avs in shots on goal, proving to not be let down as his teammates were overpowered by the Nashville offense.

While still retaining his grinder streak, he has been ready and to-the-point these past few games, almost anticipating whatever MacKinnon is going to do next. Their synergy is so visible, Landeskog was ready to intervene in the play when MacKinnon scored the OT winner against the Red Wings last game.

Rantanen doesn’t get left out of the fun, either. In fact, a perfect example of the chemistry between the the three comes in Gabriel Landeskog’s goal against the Dallas Stars. MacKinnon powers the puck into the offensive zone. When it gets knocked off his stick, Rantanen picks up the puck and works it around the back of the net. He then passes the puck to Landeskog, who one-times it into the net:

Right now, the Colorado Avalanche are in a place where they can enjoy things like these. They’re tied with the San Jose Sharks for the final wild card spot at the quarter-season mark of the team.

That’s far from where most fans had them around this time. With this level of synergy, the Avs can afford to keep it going, and it may just pay off.