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Avalanche Gameday: Rantanen Looking To Take Another Step




The Colorado Avalanche have the Winnipeg Jets on the brink of elimination, but the way they’ve done it has been fascinating.

Colorado’s top line, while they’ve been good, have not been the dominant line that you would come to expect when you throw out a trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Valeri Nichushkin, and Mikko Rantanen. The Jets have outscored the Avalanche 4-3 with MacKinnon and Rantanen on the ice, but a lot of the criticism has been sent the way of Rantanen.

Keep in mind, Rantanen still has six points in four games, so it’s not like he’s doing nothing out there. But is there another gear he can hit?

“I think he can take another step, for sure,” Avalanche Jared Bednar said before Game Five. “At the same time, those guys have been impactful. You get teams’ checking lines against them in different situations. You’ve got different scenarios that they run through. They’ve still played solid on both ends of the talk, but I think he’s got another step he can take for sure. We’ve seen him play better than he probably is right now, even though it’s sufficient and good at times. But probably a little bit more consistency would help.”

Rantanen knows he’s paid to score goals, but said that’s not his only focus during the playoffs.

“Obviously, you try to find the back of the net, but this time of the year, that’s not the thing you want to think about,” the winger said on Tuesday. “I think I’ve had a couple good looks where I probably should have scored, but their goalie made some saves. That’s what it is. But just keep playing the right way, try to defend as hard as you can, as a line and an individual. Try to defend first and then try to bury some chances. When you get chances, try to be confident, and find the back of the net.”

Colorado has been able to survive because of the work of their second line. Casey Mittelstadt, Artturi Lehkonen, and Zach Parise have been dynamite as a trio, and are outscoring the Jets 3-0 at even strength. That’s what the playoffs are about. You can’t just depend on one line to do everything, and the Avalanche have a lot of guys rolling right now.

“The second line has been finding the back of the net really well,” Rantanen said. “We’re happy, obviously. That’s a big part of our team. It’s fun to watch. They have I feel like all new guys playing with each other, but good chemistry.”

Other News And Notes

  • Joel Kiviranta made the trip but did not take part in the morning skate, so don’t expect him to play. Nikolai Kovalenko appears set to play again, and Bednar finished morning skate having a long chat with the young winger and his linemates, Miles Wood and Ross Colton. Chris Wagner is also on the trip if they decide to make any last minute changes.
  • The Jets will make changes, putting Colin Miller in on defense and playing youngster Cole Perfetti for the first time this series.
  • Alexandar Georgiev will start for Colorado, and yes, Connor Hellebuyck will go for the Jets.

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