Colorado Avalanche Forward Nathan MacKinnon Needs to be a Catalyst

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has not been a consistent performer this season. However, with Gabe Landeskog and Matt Duchene out of the lineup, the Avs need MacK to step up.

Nathan MacKinnon has been an inconsistent performer for the Colorado Avalanche so far this season. The team needs him to start carrying the load for the team like he did in Thursday night’s matchup against the Dallas Stars.

MacK was a catalyst in the game against the Stars — meaning he was the one who started the offense for the team. And, he was the one who almost facilitated an Avalanche comeback.

Here’s the goal he had to start the comeback:

Andreas Martinsen was amazing on that play, and he deserves most of the credit for the goal, but MacK was where he needed to be.

He also had a key assist at the beginning of the third period to get the Avs within range of tying the Stars:

That one had to be included because it was also Mikhail Grigorenko’s first goal of the season — on an amazing tip nonetheless; a tip akin to a one-handed karate jab.

And, MacKinnon was the one who made a smart play from the blue line to throw the puck on net. He even came close to tying the game for the Avs mid-way through the third, but Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen robbed him:

MacK might wish he lifted the puck there a bit more, but it was definitely a good save from Lehtonen.

Anyway, that is the kind of production the Avs need from MacK right now because both Matt Duchene and Gabe Landeskog continue to miss games for the Avs.

More From Mile High Sticking: Three Broken Avs Players

Thus, the onus falls on MacK to produce for the Colorado Avalanche. If Thursday’s game is any indication, then MacK is close to producing at the rate he needs to be.

MacK Needs to be More Consistent

Being more consistent is something he has even admitted he needs to learn how to do:

I feel like more should be going in. I have to do a better job of finishing them. The positive thing is I’m getting chances and have a ton of shots on net this season. I’ve been known to be streaky in my career, and I want to be more consistent, but I feel pretty good.

And, that is especially true right now when the Avs are missing two of their three top forwards in Duchy and Landy. Nathan MacKinnon is the sole proprietor of top six forward production on the Avalanche right now, which makes his production all the more important.

Sure, there are other players that can fill in momentarily like Rene Bourque, Mikhail Grigorenko, Carl Soderberg, and Joe Colborne. However, the onus ultimately falls on MacK’s shoulders to produce like a top six forward consistently.

He has that contract for a reason.

Luckily, the game against the Dallas Stars seemed to be a rekindling of the fire for him. Now, Avs fans just need to hope that his production will continue.

Conclusion

That continuation starts tonight against the Minnesota Wild — the nemesis and rival of the Colorado Avalanche.

Puck drop is at 6:00 pm MST in the Excel Energy Center.

The Minnesota Wild have been the best defensive team in the NHL throughout the season, but especially of late.

In the last ten games, the Wild have allowed a total of ten goals… They started that stretch with three straight shutouts, and they are coming off of a shutout against the Boston Bruins as well…

The Colorado Avalanche have scored a total of 17 goals in their last ten, so this matchup against the Wild brings some angst with it.

Fortunately, six of those 17 goals came in the last two games for the Avalanche. So, hopefully the Avs continue to produce at that rate, especially tonight against a stingy Minnesota team.

Nathan MacKinnon will be key to that production for the Avalanche. The last time the Avs played Minny, it was a shutout at home for the Avs on a 3rd period power play goal by Gabe Landeskog.

Well, Landy is out tonight against the Wild, so the Avs will need someone else to step up, and that someone needs to be Nathan MacKinnon.

This article originally appeared on