As long as Makar and MacKinnon are around, Avalanche will always have a chance | Colorado Hockey Now
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As long as Makar and MacKinnon are around, Avalanche will always have a chance

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Not only would Cale Makar probably win the Calder Trophy in a landslide if the voting were held today, he’d have to be in the conversation for the Norris Trophy.

As in, best all-around defenseman in the National Hockey League.

What, anyone want to argue that? OK, let’s.

John Carlson of the Washington Capitals would probably win it, and his numbers definitely would warrant it. Carlson, entering Friday, had 36 points and was a plus-13. Dougie Hamilton of Carolina had 26 points and a plus-15. But guess who is tied for second among all NHL defensemen in scoring now, with 26 points himself? That’s No. 8, Makar, who scored a goal and was a plus-2 in the Colorado Avalanche’s 5-2 victory in Chicago over the Blackhawks.

Makar would be in the conversation, and there is a lot of hockey left to be played this season.

And who might be the Hart Trophy winner, if the voting were held today? A few days ago, I wrote that my vote would go to Nathan MacKinnon, and certainly nothing he did today changed that opinion.

How does a goal and three assists sound for one day’s work? For MacKinnon, that was the output in a game in which the Avs pounced on Chicago early and went on semi- cruise-control from there.

The Avs are now 15-8-2 and get the Blackhawks again Saturday night at the Pepsi Center. Oh, and Mikko Rantanen will be back.

As long as the M&M boys are in the lineup, there will always be a shot for the Colorado Avalanche.

NOTES AND OBSERVATIONS

  • Makar’s goal was off what is becoming his patented moves: A deke down a bit lower in the zone off the blue line, followed by a laser of a wrister, top shelf. That gave the Avs a 3-1 lead and they never really looked back.
  • MacKinnon’s four points moved him into fifth place in NHL scoring, with 39 points (16 goals). He’s been doing a lot of it without two-thirds of his top-line teammates, folks.
  • MacKinnon was given credit for the first goal of the game, after J.T. Compher originally was. But, boy, I sure don’t see where MacKinnon got any tip of Compher’s shot (highlights below). If they take the goal away, MacKinnon would only get a three-point day, as Compher’s goal came after a giveaway by a Blackhawks player.
  • Great goal by Valeri Nichushkin that made it 4-1. He kicked it into overdrive in a burst of speed through center ice, then buried a backhander past Corey Crawford. Two goals in three games for Nuke. Weren’t we just wondering if he’d ever score?
  • Lots of bad Corsi numbers for the Avs today. But, as the apologists among the analytics crowd would say, it was all because of “score effects.” They always get to have it both ways. Here, in fact, is the game’s Corsi flow chart. I’m not get-off-my-lawn, anti-analytics. I just think that Corsi is one of the more flawed analytics among the ones to choose from. I think zone entries and zone exit numbers are more valuable, along with where the shots come from.

  • So, I’m hearing that Gabe Landeskog could return much sooner than the Christmas time forecast I have been making. Mostly, I just always err on the side of caution in predicting returns from injury, as the Avs always seem to make sure they are 1000 percent ready to go before they can play again. But, while it still will probably be at least a week or two for Landy, that would still put him back in the lineup sooner than I expected. Obviously, that would be welcome news.
  • Andre Burakovsky remains listed as day-to-day with that upper-body injury. We’ll see what they say at the skate tomorrow.
  • Matt Calvert is skating again. Good news. Colin Wilson is not skating. He had some kind of setback in his rehab.
  • Really liked the game of Ryan Graves again today. He scored the second goal of the game, was a plus-3 and blocked two shots. The kid has really stepped up this season.
  • Great game for Compher too. Three points, including his first goal in nine games. The kid from Illinois loves playing in Chicago. He’s got four goals in the last four games he’s played at the United Center.\
  • Here are your game highlights:

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies. Previously Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report to name just a few.

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Matt Briggle
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Matt Briggle

At this point, I’m all on board with the Makar for Norris campaign. I doubt they’ll ever give it to a rookie even if the other contenders fall off a cliff stats wise, but this kid is going to win multiple Norris trophies during his career. He’s not only putting up offensive numbers, but he’s also doing solid work in the D-zone as well. I’m looking forward to watching what he can do during his career.

Ricardo
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Ricardo

We should be a little careful and not expect too much from Rants in his first game back.

Rich
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Rich

So glad to see Nuke stepping up and playing like I expected when the Avs signed him. He has really become a valuable asset in so many ways especially will all of the injuries. Go Nuke!

Dwayne Hall
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Dwayne Hall

I’ll take you being wrong on Landeskog all day, everyday as long as it’s sooner than expected. No doubt the rest of the league is paying attention to how the Avalanche have stayed above water with the injury situation they’ve been dealt and worried about what’s to come. Especially when you look at how they started the season before the injuries. I think while a number of teams have been hot over the past couple of weeks while the Avalanche have been treading water, a number of those teams will even out again. Plus the Avalanche don’t need a long… Read more »

Duncan Allen
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Duncan Allen

The recipe for success for an NHL season has proven true for the Avs which is depth me thinks. Many guys and many top end guys have been out, and the Avs did well while they were out. Rants already a contributor being back. Our goalies are both back. We had only two solidified stars in Mackinnon and Makar present throughout the injury period which paid dividends, however, the depth guys were a force no doubt. Burakovsky, Donskoi, Kadri, all had some moments. All three were non Avs before this season. Good additions me thinks.

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