Do the Colorado Avalanche win this game without Cale Makar? We’ll never know, but he certainly led the way for his team.
After the game, I asked Makar how it felt to be named the best defenseman in the NHL by the majority of players in the league. His answer was about what you’d expect from a guy who doesn’t love talking about himself.
His coach was not afraid to shower praise on the reigning Norris Trophy winner.
Take a look at the video of Makar’s availability after another three point night, and read what Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar had to say after the win.
Bednar on the game from the Avalanche:
“I thought we got better as the game went on in all areas. With the chances as well. I thought there were times during the game where we passed up on some shots. They were doing a good job in the shooting lane and blocking shots and cramming up the net front. I thought they had a solid game defensively, but as the game went on I felt like we started to shoot the puck a bit more. Caused a little more chaos at the net. We got some good looks. Second period it really started for me with the scoring chances I liked, and then we continued it on in the third and finally got rewarded.”
Avalanche coach Bednar on Makar crediting team for his offense or if he’s generating more:
“Yeah. No question. He’s being modest. I mean, you see what he does. He kind of starts taking over the game. When we need one or it’s a close game and he starts to push offensively, he can make things happen on his own and for his linemates and the other four guys that are on the ice. He helped to drive that. So him getting 19 points, it’s just him pushing to help our team have success and pushing offensively you make things happen. A lot of it starts with our back end and what they’re able to do with the puck. Whether it’s on the breakouts or the entries or even in O-zone play. They’re such a big part of our offensive scheme that when they’re on and they’re in attack mode, it can help us.
Bednar on if Makar should be in Norris Conversation again:
“No question. I feel like he’s earned it. Most important time of the year, coming down the stretch, what he’s doing to help our team get to where we’re trying to go. And that’s what the Norris is about. He’s fought some injuries here and there and been out a couple times and it’s not always easy to jump back in. Especially with a guy like Cale. We’ve seen it even at the start of the season. He fights the puck a little bit more. Things don’t come as easily for him. Even though he’s got the legs and the right intention, and then as he starts to play games he becomes more dangerous and more dangerous. So the breaks in his season, they don’t help him. And then when he gets back in, you start to see what he can do. This was a really good first game back after only missing a couple, but it’s still time off.”
Bednar on re-uniting Helm with O’Connor and Cogliano at times tonight:
“I’d like to get them back together as Helm gets more comfortable and back up to speed and kind of gets his timing. It was such a good line for us last year, and I think Helm can get back there now. He’s got a little runway before the playoffs. So I’d like to work with that a little bit. It’s not just when we need a jolt. It’s just kind of giving him some shifts with those guys, the guys he’s most familiar with. The guys have played a similar style, and I also think that Eller can benefit from guys like Newhook and Malgin ’cause I think he’s got a little more offense in his game that he hasn’t shown us yet.”
Bednar on Erik Johnson’s return bringing balance to the Avalanche defense:
“A lot. A lot. Just the depth, like the the grouping we had tonight, those six guys. You get another right-handed shot back, it helps in so many areas—faceoffs, especially in the D-zone. And you get Cale back as a right-handed shot, so now we’re a little bit more balanced. But penalty kills, there’s all kinds of areas where I think he helps us, and he was good tonight. I was a little worried to see how he was going to move, the speed of the game, but I thought he was great, in his almost 15 minutes, for missing as much time as he did. I know he’s been working hard off the ice to to get ready ’cause he didn’t know exactly when he was going to get back, and there’s not a lot of time before playoffs. So for him to come back, it just does give our group back there a lot of balance. Every ‘D’ that we add back now just helps us that much more.”
Bednar on his decision to put Nichushkin back on the Avalanche top line:
“Little bit of both. Their top line is dangerous. The Keller-Schmaltz line. That’s a dangerous line. I don’t think they get enough credit for how well they’ve been playing recently. A big part of their offense and I wanted to play MacKinnon against them tonight. And I wanted Val there. I also want to kind of jump start Val a little bit. Since Lehkonen’s gone out, we just haven’t been quite as dangerous as we were before. It’s a big piece of our team, and he plays an important role. So I felt like Mikko and MacK could use a little bit of what Val provides, and I felt like Val could benefit from Mikko and Mac. … It worked tonight and I can see it going forward, too.”
Bednar on MacKinnon’s Play:
“It’s been really good. It’s been getting better and better. And that too doesn’t surprise me. I think we’ve kind of seen that from Nate. As the games mean more and offense is hard to come by, everyone’s checking the right way, their systems are in place, it becomes harder and harder to create offense as the year goes on. But for me, Nate finds a way to become more productive later in the year when the games matter, and that’s just his will and want and desire to be successful mixed with his ability and the drive he has. So I find this season to be really impressive because different linemates all the time, some of the years when he was — he was playing with Mikko and landy all the time. And thats what impresses me about him and Mikko this year. We’ve had them together. We’ve had them apart. It doesn’t matter. They just keep driving things forward and having success, which is impressive to me.”