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RAPID REACTION: Mittelstadt Making Avalanche GM Look Real Good



Avalanche Mittelstadt

It sure will be nice to not have to talk about who is going to be the second line center for the Colorado Avalanche next season and beyond. Chris MacFarland’s aggressive deadline solved that problem two months ago.

After a bit of a lull towards the end of the regular season, Casey Mittelstadt has hit the ground running to start the playoffs, playing fantastic through three games against the Jets.

As good as he was in games one and two, he set the bar pretty high with his performance in Game Three.

It started on one of his first shifts of the night. He got the puck in the neutral zone and cut to the middle to lead a 3-on-2. He sensed Artturi Lehkonen coming behind him, drew the defender to him, and chipped a backhand pass to his Finnish linemate. Lehkonen didn’t score, but the shift wasn’t over yet. A few seconds later, Mittelstadt pulled the puck between his legs and then to his backhand before Hellebuyck stretched out to stop him.

He was just getting started.

Zone entries are huge for this Avalanche squad, and Mittelstadt executed a perfect entry for Colorado’s first goal. Just when it looked like he might dump it in, he backhanded the puck under the stick of the Jets defender right to Parise, who gave it right back to Mittelstadt. A simple play like that showcased his skill and patience, and three seconds later, the puck was in the back of the net.

The vision and patience was on display in the third, as Hellebuyck looked like a guy who never expected the pass to Lehkonen to be completed on the fourth Avalanche goal. When you make one of the best goalies in the world look silly like that, you know you’re good.

And Mittelstadt is very, very good.

“Turned up his intensity of his game,” Bednar said after the game when talking about his 2C. “He makes a few other high skill plays that lead to scoring chances tonight, but I was most impressed with him with his wall-work. He’s been heavy and strong on pucks in the d-zone walls and the o-zone walls, guys trying to check him. He’s comfortable with guys playing on his back, reaching around him, continues to move his feet.”

It was Mittelstadt, and not superstar Nathan MacKinnon, who made the biggest impact down the middle of the ice on Friday night. After the game, he was rewarded by being named the first star of the game, and getting a huge ovation from Avalanche fans. It’s safe to say he’s loving his time in Denver.

“The crowd was insane,” Mittelstadt said after the game.

That’s a crowd he’ll likely be playing in front of for a few more years. Avalanche fans can thank Chris MacFarland on this one.

That 2C problem? It’s been solved.

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