Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon thinks, “I really felt like we could win” for the first time with the team.
Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon has a lot of confidence in the current inception of his team. So much confidence he thinks they can make a credible run at the Stanley Cup.
MacKinnon joined Darren Dreger in Dreger Cafe yesterday to talk about a host of topics. Among other things, he talked about a shift in the team’s attitude from year’s previous:
"“The first six years of my career, the goal was just to make the [Stanley Cup Playoffs]. I guess this would have been the fourth time I actually made it, but the real first time I guess that I think I could actually win.”"
That’s been talked about a lot this year. In previous seasons, the Avalanche just wanted to make it to the playoffs. However, all this season the Avs said making the playoffs wasn’t enough. They wanted to challenge for the Cup.
And most pundits have agreed that this is the team that could do it. They finally seemed to have a good mix of top line magic, secondary scoring, defenseman scoring, the new age of defense, and a goalie to top it off.
That’s what makes the NHL season pause so frustrating. The NHL is doing everything it can to produce a playoffs and award the Cup, but there are no guarantees the COVID-19 crisis will allow them to.
That said, the NHL does have a plan in place. The first phase of the response to the crisis was to suspend the season and put the players in self-imposed isolation. They’re now about to enter Phase 2, which could see the players voluntarily form small groups and practice in NHL facilities.
When the NHL does actually get to the playoffs portion of their plan — Phase 4, likely to happen late summer — they’ll start with a 24-team format. There will be 16 teams that play for a chance at the playoffs.
The top eight teams, four in each division, will play a round robin to determine seeding. That’s where the Avalanche are. They’ll play one of the teams from the play-in round after playing a game each with St. Louis, Dallas, and Vegas.
A lot of people have expressed disagreement about the 24-team format. However, MacKinnon doesn’t share the same doubts:
"“I think that’s a pretty good format, how they’re doing it. You know, there’s no perfect way, everybody had to get creative and it seems like a good place to start.”"
He also liked the position the Avalanche would be in:
"“It’s great that we can play some meaningful games against the top teams in the West for seeding.”"
More from Mile High Sticking
- Could Colorado Avalanche move on from Pavel Francouz next offseason?
- 4 goalies to replace Pavel Francouz if he has to miss time
- Colorado Avalanche make sneaky signing with Tatar
- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog could return in 2023-24 playoffs
- Colorado Avalanche rookie face-off tournament roster
Personally, I’m just glad the Colorado Avalanche don’t have to face the Stars in the first round other than a game for seeding.
These are unusual circumstances — you could even call them extraordinary. If the playoffs come to fruition, they’ll be played in two hub cities that will be determined pretty last minute to give the NHL a chance to monitor the situation concerning the pandemic.
MacKinnon doesn’t seem to care about that unusual format:
"“It’s going to be a little different. But you didn’t really know for a bit if we could finish it up.”"
That’s the crux — for a while, we were all just in a holding pattern, not sure if the NHL was just going to cancel the rest of the season the way so many sports leagues did theirs.
And that was the tragedy for Colorado:
"“We have a very, very strong team … hopefully now we get that closure.”"
This really was such an exciting year for Colorado. That’s why I personally don’t want to see the post-season cancelled. You’re not going to have this exact inception of the team, at their exact ability levels, ever again. And you only get so many kicks at the can.
If the playoffs happen, they’re going to have one more unique aspect — there won’t be any fans in the buildings. Not even sports reporters, just broadcasting crews and relevant personnel in addition to the players.
It’s not going to be the same, not seeing the energy that crowds give. But MacKinnon doesn’t seem concerned about that either:
"“I just want to play. I want to have a chance to win. I think that’s what everybody wants.”"
When you’re a competitor of MacKinnon’s ilk, that’s all you want — to win. Individual accolades count for nothing. That’s been the Colorado Avalanche’s mantra all season.
And now we can see it comes from our superstar. MVP. MVP.