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It’s Time: Avalanche Need A Mikko Rantanen Game

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Avalanche Rantanen

Quite literally every statistic you look up this postseason would seem to indicate Mikko Rantanen is having one heck of a playoff run.

With the big winger on the ice, the Avalanche are dominating the puck, controlling 62.47% of the shot attempts. That’s best on the team. Scoring chances are even more lopsided when Rantanen is out there, with Colorado owning nearly 64% of them when he’s out there. That’s also best on the team. He’s tied for third in the NHL with nine even strength points, and his 13 points in 10 games is nothing to sneeze at.

And yet, here we are, 10 games into the postseason, and nobody can shake the feeling that something is “off” with him.

His shot rate is down in all situations, whether it be 5-on-5 or the powerplay. Pucks seem to be rolling off his stick a lot more frequently. And the big man, who is one of the strongest guys on the team, is taking a beating physically from just about everyone, even 5’8″ Logan Stankoven.

The points are there, but Rantanen hasn’t quite looked like himself. There have been brief glimmers. After he snapped his stick in half towards the end of the second period in Winnipeg, he responded with a two goal third to send the Jets home for the summer. I thought, all things considered, he looked pretty good in Game Five a few days ago. On the Casey Mittelstadt goal, he forechecks off a dump-in, runs over Joe Pavelski, and then boxes him out in front of the net. On Makar’s powerplay goal, he gets his big body to the net to help create a screen. Those aren’t big things that show up on the scoresheet, but they help.

Ultimately, the Avalanche depend on Mikko Rantanen to contribute in a big way on the scoresheet, and he has done that, but there’s something they could really use from him – a dominant performance. The king of showing that reminds you why he’s making the big bucks and why the Avalanche will likely give him a massive extension this summer.

We haven’t gotten that this postseason, and really, we didn’t much of it during the regular season either. Last year, Rantanen was probably the MVP of the team. This season, he took more of a backseat to Nathan MacKinnon, just like everyone else on the team.

On Wednesday night, Jared Bednar finally pulled the trigger and separated the MacKinnon/Rantanen duo. For some, it was long overdue, and it really seemed like Bednar had no choice other than to break them up heading into Game Five.

“At some point you might need to change it to get a spark,” he said after the game.

I can’t imagine they’ll make any changes heading into Game Six. During Game Five, the Avalanche got a big-time performance from Cale Makar, who was on a different level from the drop of the puck. We know Nathan MacKinnon is capable of doing it, but the Stars are going to gameplan around shutting down MacKinnon with a chance to close out the series. That should leave Rantanen some easier matchups to, theoretically, do some damage.

With the season on the line, tonight has to be the night.

It’s time for Mikko Rantanen to take over a game.

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