When you think of a couple of players who must put a team on their shoulders so they can soar to new heights, Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon are the first two who come to mind. And the duo is once again enjoying a dynamic season, with MacKinnon clocking in with 85 points and 32 goals while Makar is one of the highest-scoring blueliners in the league with 60 points and 13 goals.
But recently, we have seen that the heroics of MacKinnon and Makar are not enough, and that a few more players in different roles must step up and bring their A-Game as the playoff race grows intense. If the Avalanche can find themselves leading the pack in the Central Division by the end of February, it would also give them much-needed momentum in the final month-and-a-half of the season.
Mikko Rantanen’s power play odyssey must keep going strong
Last season, Mikko Rantanen was one of the best players in hockey, having scored 105 points and 55 goals. His efforts on the power play were impeccable, as 37 of those points occurred when the Avalanche found themselves on special teams.
Rantanen has again been a phenom on the man advantage this season, scoring 30 of his 67 points when the Avalanche are at 5-on-4, which could easily supersede what he accomplished last season. Special teams are a huge way to gain a competitive advantage over an opponent, and if Rantanen’s productivity stays steady or ideally increases on the power play, it will have positive repercussions for Colorado over the last two weeks of the month.
While Rantanen’s production at even-strength must also remain sky-high if the Avalanche plan on maximizing their chances to retake the lead in the Central Division, his special teams contributions continue to play a huge part in the Avalanche's overall success.