MacKinnon and Rantanen are focused on repeating, not scoring

Mar 28, 2023 - 5:21 PM
NHL: Calgary Flames at <a href=Colorado Avalanche" src="" />
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon are on the precipice of realizing statistical benchmarks that will set them apart for the rest of their NHL careers. For Mikko Rantanen, that means scoring 50 goals in the regular season. He has 48 goals and nine games to reach that number and beyond. My vote is beyond.

On the other hand, MacKinnon is in pursuit of his first 100-point season, which he almost achieved back in 2017-18 (97) and 2018-19 (99). He, too, will have nine games to score the remaining five points he needs to get to 100. I think they will achieve these milestones, not because these two phenoms are focused on doing so, but because they are focused on winning and making another cup run. Stats always follow a team with lofty goals and enough grit and skill to fulfill their potential. That's what this year's Colorado Avalanche team represents.

In this 21st episode of the Mile High Hockey Lab, host Adrian Hernandez was joined by Managing Editor Evan Liu and fellow contributors Jackie Kay and Ezra Parter. The discussion began with Colorado's recent success on the powerplay and what might be causing the influx of success. The Avs have scored a PPG in 12 straight games and will tie the franchise record if they can score on the advantage in the next two games. We think it comes down to familiarity and practice, not to mention having an all-world defender like Cale Makar quarterbacking the first unit.

That led us to our predictions regarding Mikko Rantanen's 50-goal aspirations, and we used our poll of the week to gauge fan expectations. The fans and our panel agree that Mikko will likely get more than 50 goals but less than Joe Sakic's Avalanche record of 54. Ezra does think that is a reasonable prediction but is bullish on Rantanen and thinks he can beat the record of 54. Why not? He's averaging half a goal per game, and the first powerplay unit is rolling.

That made us ponder whether MacKinnon and Rantanen care all that much about these numbers. We all know that both are very good at downplaying personal achievement, at least when the cameras are on, but what might it mean to them personally? It should mean a lot, given these statistical benchmarks set you apart and are valuable bargaining chips for players when it's time for a new contract.

Moreover, Evan Liu mentions that although MacKinnon may outwardly express it, getting 100 points will mean a lot to someone so competitive and in tune with the game. Jackie said that the story goes Marchand and Crosby like to give MacK a hard time in the offseason about not doing so. At the very least, he must want it so that Sid can't hold it over his head anymore.

We then looked ahead at the remaining two games this week for Colorado. They face the Minnesota Wild tomorrow and the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. Both games present an opportunity to take hold of the Central Division once and for all. On paper, the Avalanche should be more concerned with the Dallas Stars. However, Jackie pointed out that it's not all that common to sweep a division rival like the Wild and is worried about that matchup given that context.

If the Avalanche do get the season sweep against the Wild, the Stars' game will be even more crucial. Dallas might be Colorado's biggest divisional threat. Thus, beating them to win the division should be the priority. I would rather they face the Kraken or Jets in round one than the Stars or Wild.

We ended the show how we usually do with some bold predictions! Head over to YouTube or your preferred listening platform to hear how we called our shot. Don't forget to listen to this week's episode for even more Avalanche talk! Like, subscribe, and share! All episodes are broadcast live on our YouTube channel, so head over there and subscribe.

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