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