Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Avalanche’

 

P.K. Subban had nothing but kind words for Nathan MacKinnon after their first-round playoff series ended Sunday night.

The Nashville Predators defenseman gave a long answer lauding the Colorado Avalanche forward after the Predators’ 5-0 victory that eliminated the Avalanche in Game 6.

“You guys know I’m biased about (Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne), but in my opinion, (MacKinnon) was the best player in the league this year,” Subban said, according to NHL.com’s Tracey Myers.

“That’s not to take anything away from other guys like Taylor Hall who have had great years,” Subban continued.

“But I think for (MacKinnon) and what he’s done with this team, a team that’s been up and down … He’s just come into his own and he’s a phenomenal hockey player. He’s so tough to handle, so fast, strong and shifty. My expectation for him as a player is to be a Hall of Famer by the end of his career. He understands that. (I have) just tremendous respect for him. I just told him I hope he takes home that trophy that he deserves as the MVP. He deserves it.”

Subban raised eyebrows during the series when he caught MacKinnon with a blindside punch to the head in Game 3, and then said he’d do it again.

MacKinnon will almost certainly be named one of the three finalists for the Hart Trophy when they’re announced Friday.

He tied for ninth in the NHL in goals and placed fifth in points while being limited to 74 games, helping the Avalanche rebound from the worst record in the salary-cap era last season to clinching a playoff berth in 2017-18.

Advertisements

The Colorado Avalanche‘s playoff hopes just took a pair of major blows.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov is done for the season with an injury the club would only classify as a lower-body ailment, while defenseman Erik Johnson will miss six weeks with a broken kneecap, the club revealed Saturday.

Colorado’s No. 1 netminder, left Friday’s win over the Chicago Blackhawks late in the third period after Tomas Jurco crashed into him.

Johnson didn’t play Friday, and like Varlamov, this won’t be his first extended injury absence of the campaign.

Varlamov missed about a month of action between early January and early February, and Johnson also missed a full month between mid-February and mid-March.

The veteran blue-liner leads Colorado in average ice time in 2017-18, having logged more than 25 minutes per night in 62 contests.

Entering Saturday’s games, the Avalanche held the same amount of points (92) and regulation-or-overtime wins (40) as the St. Louis Blues, who occupied the second Western Conference wild-card spot.

However, the Blues held a game in hand, so the Avalanche found themselves outside the playoff picture, and it’s going to be even more difficult to qualify for the postseason without Varlamov and Johnson down the stretch.

Compounding matters is that Colorado has only four games left in the regular season, and they won’t be easy – a road back-to-back against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings on Sunday and Monday, another away affair against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday, and then a meeting with the Blues at home to close out the schedule next Saturday.

Matt Duchene won’t realize his goal of making the playoffs this season, but he still sees a future with the Ottawa Senators.

Duchene, who was acquired from Colorado earlier this season, can become an unrestricted free agent in 2019, and responded favorably to general manager Pierre Dorion saying the team would like to discuss a contract extension as early as July 1 of this year.

“Absolutely,” Duchene said Saturday with regards to interest on his end, per Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch. “I’m encouraged from what I see here. Obviously, there’s a whole other business side to approach and I have no idea what that’s going to look like and feel like yet.”

Whether the two sides can ultimately agree to terms is yet to be seen, but there’s clearly an appetite to try and find some common ground.

“I guess we’ll see but that’s encouraging to hear that they’re interested and trying to work something out long term. I’ve really enjoyed my time here as tough as the season has been for the team. I feel I’ve been able to be more myself than I have in a long time here and it’s been encouraging for me.”

Duchene got off to a slow start with the Senators, but he’s recorded 40 points in 60 contests since the trade and is averaging almost a point per game since the All-Star break with 12 goals and 13 assists in his last 27 appearances.

Has any player had a quieter 80 points this season than Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen?

The 21-year-old picked up his 27th goal on Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings, becoming the fourth Finnish player in NHL history to record 80 points in a season, according to Hockey Reference.

Rantanen joins the elite company of Jari Kurri, Teemu Selanne, and Olli Jokinen. Tomas Sandstrom is also listed among the players on Hockey Reference since he was born in Finland, but given that he grew up in and represented Sweden internationally, he does not count.

It’s been quite a season for Finnish hockey, as last week, Golden Knights forward Erik Haula became the seventh Finn to record 50 points this season, which surpassed the country’s previous best of six.

Nathan MacKinnon gets all the attention in Colorado – and deservedly so – but it’s time to start recognizing Rantanen as one of the game’s bright young stars.

The Colorado Avalanche have turned things around in a hurry.

Coming off an historically awful 2016-17, the Avs have reeled off nine wins in a row, currently sit in a Western Conference wild-card playoff spot, and are withing striking distance of third place in the ultra-competitive Central Division.

Following that ninth consecutive victory Saturday over the New York Rangers, defenseman Erik Johnson spoke about the commitment made by the team’s core players to avoid a repeat performance of last year.

“The way things went last year, I think the easy thing to say would have been: ‘It’s not working here, let’s go somewhere else, let’s jump ship,'” Johnson said Saturday, per Rick Sadowski of NHL.com. “The character guys and core guys in this room said we want to figure things out here in Colorado, make it work.”

Earlier this season, Colorado shook up the roster by coming through on a trade request filed last year by Matt Duchene, one made because he was tired of losing.

“I wanted to play playoff hockey,” Duchene explained at the time of the trade, per Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia. “I’ve got eight playoff games to my name right now and that’s not where I want to be at this point of my career.”

Heading into Saturday’s game against Toronto, Duchene’s Ottawa Senators sat second to last in the Eastern Conference, all but out of the playoff picture.

 
 

Matt Duchene shed some light on why he requested a trade from the Colorado Avalanche last December.

With the Avalanche mired in a historically awful season at the time, Duchene – who was dealt to the Ottawa Senators on Sunday – saw signs that general manager Joe Sakic was leading the club into a retooling phase. Having been down that road before, the now 26-year-old wasn’t willing to spend his prime years not seriously competing for the Stanley Cup.

As a result, Duchene made the request to management, which he called “the hardest thing I ever had to do” at an introductory press conference in Ottawa on Monday.

“I wanted to play playoff hockey” he explained, per Bruce Garrioch of Postmedia. “I’ve got eight playoff games to my name right now and that’s not where I want to be at this point of my career. I only get one shot at this. I get to play this game for however long my body lets me play it and I felt I wanted to let Joe know it was time to move on.”

Duchene was a Colorado fan as a kid, and dreamed of winning the Cup with the Avalanche. His 586 regular-season games with the franchise only translated into two trips to the playoffs, however, wherein he recorded six assists in eight games.

The Senators came within a goal of advancing to the Stanley Cup Final last season and certainly hope Duchene will add to his postseason totals with the club.

While it’s been well documented that Matt Duchene has wanted out of Colorado for some time now, just how long he’s been waiting to be dealt has been kept on the down-low – until now.

Following the three-way trade that sent Duchene to the Ottawa Senators and Kyle Turris to the Nashville Predators, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic explained that Duchene formally asked to be traded last year.

“Matt, last Christmas, he asked me if I could move him just for a fresh start,” Sakic said, according to Stephen Whyno of The Assoicated Press. “I just told him: Be patient.”

Duchene told reporters in January that he was open to a trade, stating he understood that it was part of the business and something that could potentially happen. Evidently it appears he was more than open to a trade.

In all, it took just under 11 months for Duchene to get what he truly wanted. Sakic, however, noted that Duchene is “relieved” and “excited to go to Ottawa,” while reiterating the move was the best thing for the Avalanche.

Everyone can now move on.