Nathan MacKinnon has put this team on his back. He is the reason for their success. That’s not to take anything away from the rest of the Avalanche players, but it should come as no surprise that the nine-game winning streak corresponds with a nine-game points streak from MacKinnon.
What’s more, MacKinnon’s 59 points (23 goals, 36 assists) is good for second place in the entire NHL — he’s just two points behind Tampa Bay Lighting forward Nikita Kucherov. Nate is four points away and one goal away from matching his career best — both achieved in his Calder Trophy-winning year. He’s making a good case for winning the Hart Trophy.
Oh, and he’s an alternate captain. He’s in a leadership role.
If Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t stay hot, the Avalanche don’t stay hot. The fate of the Colorado team corresponds directly with what Nathan MacKinnon does. And that most certainly increases the pressure put on him.
But then, that’s what you expect from a first-overall draft pick. MacKinnon has been facing this kind of buzz his entire life — in fact, he recently hinted that the last couple years when he wasn’t getting attention was an anomaly for him in his career. (He’s not Harvard grad Alexander Kerfoot — the actual word he used was “weird,” not anomaly.)
Players go cold, though, so we’re all hoping MacKinnon doesn’t go more than a couple games without a point. (Last season he had several three- and four-game stretches without a single point.)