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MacKinnon ready to go as Avs take on Arizona

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Nathan MacKinnon

In the words of Mark Morrison in his chart-topping 1996 single “Return of the MacK”:

Return of the MacK (It is!)

Return of the MacK (Come on!)

Return of the MacK (Oh my god!)

You know that I’ll be back (Here I am!)

Indeed, Nathan MacKinnon will return to the ice tonight for the Colorado Avalanche.

“I’ve been good for a few days; I feel great, and I’m excited to play tonight,” MacKinnon said this morning.

MacKinnon missed the last three games due to a high hit on March 3. The Avs hope MacKinnon’s return will provide that much needed spark of offense and pace that the team has somewhat lacked in his absence.

One department where the team has excelled in is on the defensive side of the puck. The Avs have gone 13 straight games without allowing more than 30 shots on net.

“We wanted to push to be one of the best defensive teams in the league,” head coach Jared Bednar said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “I’ve liked it so far this year, and it’s something we need to continue to improve upon and make sure we’re playing a full 60 minutes. The better we are defensively, the better we are offensively. That’s the selling point for our team.”

“Defensively, I think we’re good there,” MacKinnon agreed. “…Coming out of training camp, we wanted to improve our defense, and I think we have.”

Before adding…

“But that shouldn’t affect our offense. If anything it should make it better. It’s like we’re playing super safe and not trying to score. We gotta find ways to put the puck in the net. I think we just need to find ways to score more goals and get our offense going like it usually is—usually we’re top-five, top-six every year.”

 

The Masters

Tonight’s Forward Lines:

Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen

Saad-Kadri-Burakovsky

Nichushkin-Jost-Donskoi

Calvert-Bellemare-O’Connor

On Defense:

Graves-Girard

Toews-MacDonald

Renouf-Pateryn

Grubauer

 

Other news and notes:

  • MacKinnon spoke on the two-game suspension of Joachim Blichfeld, the San Jose Shark who hit MacKinnon up high, and had this to say: “I didn’t even know he got two games, I wasn’t paying attention. Obviously it wasn’t great hit, but I think that’s fair. I wasn’t really hurt that bad. It is what it is. I know he didn’t mean to; it was just an unfortunate play.”
  • Fun Fact: A year ago tomorrow will be the one-year anniversary of the Avs final game (against the New York Rangers) before the COVID shutdown the NHL regular season.
  • “I remember I was hurt that night and I remember the NBA got shutdown during our game and they had to sleep in the dressing room or something crazy like that,” MacKinnon reminisced. “We figured that it was over for our season at that time. We didn’t know how long it would take, and this year has flown by. I remember flying home like it was yesterday, doing the two-week quarantine at my house back home in Canada and just kinda waiting week by week to see when we’d return. It’s been a long but quick year. I’m excited to get this whole COVID thing over with, that’s for sure.”
  • Bednar added: “That’s hard to believe that’s a year ago already. That was unfortunate, we were feeling good about our season and starting to get healthy and I remember there was a lot of buzz the NBA stopped and we may also be taking a pause. It was disappointing. We were excited about our team and where we were going.”
  • DJ Triple T, the Avs in-house DJ, has promised me he’ll play “Return of the MacK” after MacKinnon scores tonight.

The Avs are 1-1-1 so far on this homestand, which continues tonight against the Arizona Coyotes.

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A graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, Scott has so far spent the early parts of his young career covering Colorado hockey — from the Avalanche to the Colorado Eagles to the DU Pioneers. His work can be found across sites such as NHL.com, TheAHL.com and SB Nation, among others. Scott currently resides in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Denver, where he works as a Marketing Executive when he's not writing.

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