AVALANCHE

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - Mike Cham­bers: mcham­bers@den­ver­post.com or @mikecham­bers

a right­shoot­ing cen­ter, fin­ishes with more goals than Matthews or Taveres, both left­ies.

MacKin­non, in­deed, can do bet­ter. And he will.

Left­ies make up the ma­jor­ity of NHL play­ers but right­ies score more goals. In the last 20 years only four left­ies — Pavel Bure (2001), Rick Nash (2004), Vin­cent Le­cav­a­lier (2007) and Sid­ney Crosby (2010, ’17) — have won the Mau­rice “Rocket” Richard Tro­phy as the NHL’s top goal­scorer.

MacKin­non is more than ca­pa­ble of scor­ing 50 goals, which would be one more than Rocket win­ner Alex Ovechkin of the Stan­ley Cup­cham­pion Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals had last sea­son. MacKin­non fin­ished with 39 goals in 2017­18 but didn’t score his first one un­til the sea­son’s sev­enth game, and only had one through the first 10 games.

The 23­year­old will con­tinue to jell with line­mates Gabe Lan­deskog and Mikko Ran­ta­nen. As good as it is, the “MGM Line” will only get bet­ter.

“I think we saw it last year, what he’s ca­pa­ble of, and I don’t see why he would slow down,” Lan­deskog said of MacKin­non. “He keeps work­ing hard, keeps shoot­ing the puck and keeps cre­at­ing things of­fen­sively. Pro­duc­tion­wise, I’m not go­ing to put a ceil­ing on what he can do, be­cause I don’t think there is one.”

MacKin­non leads Colorado in goal­scor­ing but has just one as­sist. That’s where he can im­prove.

“I got more to give. But it’s good. It hasn’t been easy so far this year,” MacKin­non said. “The puck has kind of been pin­balling around. But on my chances, I’ve been ready, I’ve been fo­cused.”

Avs coach Jared Bed­nar said MacKin­non is “just start­ing to hit his stride,” which spells trou­ble for Cal­gary in Satur­day’s game at the Pepsi Cen­ter against the Flames.

“Hand­ful of points through a hand­ful of games and I hadn’t felt like we’ve seen his best,” Bed­nar said of MacKin­non. “I thought the sec­ond pe­riod the other night in Colum­bus he re­ally started to take off and gain some con­fi­dence from that. He’s hun­gry to suc­ceed and he came out had a big night for us tonight.

“Those (top­line) guys, if they con­tinue to work the way they’re work­ing and do the right things and pay at­ten­tion to the process it’s go­ing to come for them. I feel they could be a dan­ger­ous line ev­ery night and that’s the ex­pec­ta­tion we have for them and what they have for them­selves.”

Foot­notes. The Avs re­turned to Den­ver early Fri­day morn­ing and had the rest of the day off. They’ll re­con­vene for a morn­ing skate Satur­day be­fore the 8 p.m. start against the Flames. … Rookie for­ward Shel­don Dries was reas­ signed to the Avs’ Amer­i­can Hockey League af­fil­i­ate, the Colorado Ea­gles. Dries played in the first three games for the Avalanche and could be re­called be­fore the team de­parts for a fourgame, East Coast trip Mon­day. With­out Dries, the Avs are carry­ ing just 12 for­wards, and will need to pick up at least one be­fore the trip be­gins Tues­day at the New York Rangers.

Jay LaPrete, The As­so­ci­ated Press

The Avalanche's Nathan MacKin­non, right, has five goals in four games this sea­son.

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