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Mikko Rantanen on Vegas loss: “We lost to their physicality”

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Mikko Rantanen
Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire

It was laughed off in some circles as archaic thought. You don’t need “tough guys” to win in the NHL anymore. It’s a skill game now, and the Colorado Avalanche is the team with the most skill, and that’s why they’ll beat the Vegas Golden Knights in the playoffs.” Mikko Rantanen now sees it a bit differently.

“We lost to their physicality,” Rantanen said today. “I think that’s my take from the series.”

When the autopsy was complete following the Avs’ sudden, shocking collapse in the second round of the NHL playoffs to Vegas, one thing was determined: Yes, the Avs do need more “tough guys”, which explains why the team signed one of the league’s most fearsome fighters, Kurtis MacDermid. They brought in a defenseman who is known as a bruiser, in veteran Jack Johnson. They brought in Darren Helm, who is known as a feisty guy.

And, it seems, the Avs are trying to change more of their mindset too, not just in physical makeup. It might be summed up as: No more Mr. Nice Guy.

The fact is, the Avs were pushed around too much last year, despite having the best regular-season record in the league. They were pushed around too much by the Golden Knights, with tough guys such as Ryan Reaves, Keegan Kolesar and Jonathan Marchessault getting away with too much.

It’s not like the Avs were a soft team in the playoffs (remember Gabe Landeskog’s pummeling of Brayden Schenn in the St. Louis series?). But they just lacked that certain something when it came to the physical intimidation of opponents. After the Avs took a 2-0 series lead, the Golden Knights tried to turn the games more into a street fight. The Avs seemed to get rattled, got off their game somewhat and lost four straight. The Golden Knights seemed to respect the Avs’ talent, but not fear them as a team. That became evident as the series went along. The Avs always seemed to be the retaliators, not the initiators.

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“Just the next step, we have to be ready for playoff hockey. It’s way different than regular season,” Mikko Rantanen said.

You can bet that MacDermid will be in the lineup against certain teams, like Vegas – even though Reaves has moved on to the New York Rangers. The 6-foot-5, 233-pound defenseman said the other day that he will be more than ready to address any “liberties” taken against teammates.

Physicality is also why I think Jack Johnson will stick with the Avs, despite currently being on just a professional tryout contract.

Yeah, hockey is more of a skill game now than it used to be. You can’t win without talent.

But it was made clear last spring: you need some brawn, too.

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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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onthefly

That’s why I believe Girard will be traded this season for more firepower on that second line.

ricoflashback

I’m all for that. Great skater, he just flies up the ice like a swift breeze but he also plays defense like a fart in the wind. Non-existent. Maybe Joe Sakic will get the message and trade Girard but Joe is stubborn. He’ll have to go through more playoffs losses (how many years?) with no Stanley Cups until he is either replaced or he builds a roster built for the playoffs.

Yan Girard

If I understand well, If Girard is traded, Sakic is the next scapegoat?

Last edited 2 months ago by Yan Girard
chippy play

This is so dumb

Yan Girard

You don’t change the physicality of a team trading a single player. You don’t destroy the identity of a team to add a forward on the second line. Suggest to trade Girard, it’s not to know well the IDENTITY of Avs.

James

Good on Mikko for saying it (and perhaps a positive sign that its being considered within the locker room). All of the numbers and aspirations won’t change the outcome, but this might (but because of the personnel decisions, that’s going to ride on development and buy-in, to include how much respect the coach still commands).

Richard Trujillo

Well, Rantanen is going to get banned from all the Avalanche fan pages on facebook for suggesting this. This has been the case for years and to even suggest that fact will get you banned.

Yan Girard

You can be a physical player and not to play physical some nights. It’s important you not to degrade on the physical side when you are a big man as Rantanen.

ricoflashback

This is for Yan Girard and all the other folks that don’t understand that the playoffs are totally different from the regular season:

“Just the next step, we have to be ready for playoff hockey. It’s way different than regular season,” Mikko Rantanen said.”

Yan Girard

There are some differences between the season and the playoffs. In playoffs, at each night, you fight against a good team. Also, in playoffs, you have a lot pressure especially when you are the favourite teams to win Stanley Cup. The team is very young and you must learn to lose before win. At each night, you must be ready to fight that the Avs didn’t. Also, Vegas was an experienced team than the Avs and was one of the favourite team to win Stanley Cup. Vegas was an excellent team. To win, you must be good at right time.… Read more »

ricoflashback

Quit the long diatribe. You are out of your mind. You know very little about hockey and what it takes to win. So far, the identity of the Avs is a losing club that can’t get out of the second round. Girard is a weak, undersized player that you cannot win a Cup with. He’s not even in the top 25 of defensemen. If Team Canada picks him – that would be great for the USA. Mikko flat out tells everyone that the Avs weren’t ready or prepared for the physicality of Vegas. Mikko tells everyone that the playoffs are… Read more »

Yan Girard

Avs swept Saint-Louis Blues in first round. Was it the playoffs, YES or NOT? Can you name THREE DEFENSEMEN in NHL that have exactly the same skills than Girard? Your favourite Graves 6.5, WHERE was he in series against Vegas? So, WHERE was the first, second and third line? Grubauer has been at its better? I yet competed in many sports at high level. If you had that experience, you would know that the game is 90% MENTAL. The reality is that even if you were successful to put the best team on paper at your eyes on the ice,… Read more »

chippy play

Good post Yan, but these guys will never understand. Your point about 20% is the perfect example – they can’t understand that. In their minds, if you don’t win the cup, you should blow up the roster. I love Mikko’s comment. I agree that the Av can deal better with contact and be tougher to play against. But that’s an adjustment at the edges, something the young Avs are learning. But strength of this team is its skill and talent, including Girard, who is a great defender. That’s what will carry them to a cup, if they get there (remember,… Read more »

Yan Girard

As you say, you cann’t blow up the roster because a counter-performance or you don’t win Stanley Cup. Many factors to be considered in the evaluation of the performance of the team. To do bad trades can deteriorate the roster and the chemistry of the team. It isn’t like Playstation trades.

ricoflashback

Sammy Girard isn’t even ranked in the top 25 of NHL Defensemen. Sammy Girard as a great defender? You’re drinking the Yan Girard Kool-Aid. Or, you just don’t know hockey. Girard was a plus/minus (-5) in the Vegas series and in the playoffs, career wise, a plus/minus (-1). He is not an elite defender or defenseman and is the weakest link on the Avs team. Getting rid of Sammy Girard isn’t blowing up the roster. It’s replacing him with more physical defensemen that can defend, play a physical game and not give away half the defensive zone on every shift.

Yan Girard

My statement isn’t in contradiction with Mikko. It’s only your interpretation that is wrong. In playoffs, you must be ready to fight at each night, manage pressure and playing your best. As yet mentioned in another post, the game is 90% mental. It’s usual to note a lack in that area for a young team. But at the end of the day, it’s always HOCKEY. The proof that your interpretation is wrong is that all the people knew that the Avs had a good team and the odds at Vegas to win Stanley Cup was in favour of the Avs.… Read more »

Bob Neal

Thanks for the article Adrian. It seems like this is a very unpopular opinion to have these days among the local hockey pundits. I’ve watched hockey for a long time and your article is spot on. I do hope they hang onto Jack Johnson and look for MacDermid to protect the boys. I also wonder where Sammie’s cousin Yan has disappeared to as ricoflashback seems to miss his sparring partner?

Yan Girard

I am not the cousin of Sam. I am his brother. It’s a joke. You will understand that I would have an username and I wouldn’t present “Yan Girard” if I had a family relationship with Sam. I just know my hockey 🙂

ricoflashback

Yan doesn’t know his Girard. At least the Sammy version. You can talk to you’re blue in the face or even have it stated by a key player like Mikko but it will never sink in to those who do not understand hockey and the second season.

Yan Girard

The playoffs aren’t so different of the regular season. We must not have specific ideas about that. The proof is that very often one of the 3-4 best teams in season will win the Stanley Cup. Rarely, we have major surprises. Then, the history demonstrates clearly that a team that performs in season will be able to perform in playoffs. You aren’t convinced? Look winnings Stanley Cup of the 30 last years. 

ricoflashback

Your statement “The playoffs aren’t so different of the regular season” totally contradicts what Mikko said and shows your lack of hockey knowledge. Like I said before – – if a major Avs player and contributor can’t get through your skull – – no one will. You spout these long winding posts about absolutely nothing germane to the subject at hand. Getting rid of Girard is not blowing up the team. It’s getting rid of a weak, defensive link that is not even rated in the top 25 of defensemen. A plus/minus of -5 in the Vegas series and overall… Read more »

Yan Girard

My statement isn’t in contradiction with Mikko. It’s only your interpretation that is wrong. In playoffs, you must be ready to fight at each night, manage pressure and playing your best. As yet mentioned in another post, the game is 90% mental. It’s usual to note a lack in that area for a young team. But at the end of the day, it’s always HOCKEY. The proof that your interpretation is wrong is that all the people knew that the Avs had a good team and the odds at Vegas to win Stanley Cup was in favour of the Avs.… Read more »

[…] We lost to their physicality. I think that’s my take from the series. –Mikko Rantanen to Colorado Hockey Now […]

[…] by the Golden Knights in the second-round despite having a 2-0 lead in the series. The 24-year-old Rantanen believes he knows exactly why that was the […]

Ryan

The real underlying problem is the league’s desire to let playoffs be more physical instead of officiating the same as the regular season so the more skilled players and teams are more likely to win.
Of course there’s next to nothing Mikko or anyone else on the team can actually do about that so what they have to do to win in the playoffs is become a slightly less skilled but more physical team.
In my opinion that’s a determined to the game and it’s entirely the fault of nhl leadership and officiating.

Yan Girard

On this subject, there is a new rule on the cross-checking for the next season. I am very happy because that will improve the show. The cross-checking isn’t hockey. All the people is able to do cross-checking. I would like well to win millions of dollars to do cross-checking 🙂
https://www.sportsnet.ca/nhl/article/nhl-imposing-stricter-enforcement-cross-checking-rule-2021-22-season/

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