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Avalanche Room: Bednar On Center Swap, Scorching Hot Rantanen Feeling Confident



Avalanche Rantanen

Nathan MacKinnon gets all the headlines in Colorado, and for good reason, but the Avalanche have another star that’s on fire at the moment.

Mikko Rantanen scored two more goals on Friday night, giving him eight goals in his last five games. He’s feeling confident, but when a team is on an eight-game winning streak, made sure to point out that everyone is probably feeling that way right now.

Rantanen had a new center for most of the game, playing with Casey Mittelstadt after the first period. He discussed that swap, and Jared Bednar talked about why he made the move after the 6-1 win over the Blue Jackets.

Mikko Rantanen

Rantanen on if the game feels different when you’re on a hot streak like him:

“I think, always, with confidence the game feels a little bit easier. When you’re fighting the puck a little bit, and when you go through cold stretches, it feels a little more difficult. A lot of guys are feeling good about their game now – I would say everybody. We’re just trying to ride the streak now and keep it going.”

Casey Mittelstadt

Bednar on the start of the game from his Avalanche:

“I liked the way we were skating in the first period. I didn’t like our decisions entering the offensive zone. We slowed it down too much in the neutral zone and then too many turnovers entering the offensive zone. Too much east-west play…we didn’t spend enough time in the offensive zone, but I liked the way we were skating, breaking the puck out, all that seemed to be fine. That was the message after the first. We were quicker in the neutral zone, more quick-ups, and guys skating and pouring onto the puck, which led to better entries.”

Bednar on switching MacKinnon and Casey Mittelstadt:

“Mack’s line wasn’t doing a lot. They were part of the one and done’s in the first period. Part of that is, why go back to something that’s the exact same? Mikko has not played with Mittelstadt yet. I thought if I just flip those centers around, we might get a little boost out of it, and we did. I think Mikko and Mittelstadt scored their first shift together and had another one later. It is experimenting, get them familiar with one another. It’s a good game to do it.”

Bednar on putting Wood and Colton back together to make up 2/3 of the third line for the Avalanche:

“I liked their game tonight a lot. We’ve been talking back and forth with their line. I feel like they should be playing together. They get along great off the ice. We’ve seen them play some great games, great stretches of games. When we went out East, they were our best line consistently for a while, so I know they have it in them and they just have to work through some issues, so we talk about a few things…I liked that line a lot tonight.”

“They’re, like, inseparable (off the ice).”

Bednar on Mittelstadt’s ability to play with anyone:

“Well, he is a high IQ player. He is an intelligent hockey player, especially when you look at how he maneuvers around the ice on the offensive side of things. He’s a committed defender, though, but you know, I feel like the wingers that we’re playing with, whether it’s Drouin, Lehkonen, Val, Rantanen, those guys are all really smart players that bring a little different skillset to the table, but it’s still within the structure of our game.”

Bednar on coaching Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon:

“I love coaching the guy because he brings an intensity and a drive to his game that’s unmatched, in my opinion, in the league. The streak is a result of all the hard work and dedication that he brings to the game on a nightly basis. There’s not a guy on that bench that didn’t know he hadn’t had a point yet, and when he got it, everyone was pretty happy. You can see that he wants it.”

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