“Play-off Nate” developed. McKinnon shows his maturity as he embarkes on a playoff trip

Nathan McQueen knew only the losing end of the second round.

He was slapped last year VegasIn the net, as the clock was ticking in the 6th game, it seemed that hitting hard enough could have taken into account the three goals needed to equalize the game. Last season, he stared blankly from the bench as Dallas players celebrated extra-time victory in their seventh game. And in 2019, he passed the handshake, stopping to congratulate the goalkeeper Martin Jones on delivery Colorado Loss of one goal in the 7th game.

The Avalanche star did not want any of this to happen again, especially given the talent on the Colorado list. So he did his best to secure Avalanche’s victory in Game 5, finishing with a hat-trick with an all-time goal from Wednesday. But that was not enough, because St. Louis He scored a goal in the last minute and won in extra time.

“I hope everything happens for some reason,” he said after the game. “We have to go to do it.”

This is a man who hates losing. While he was still in Shattuck-St. Mary, at Minnesota Preparatory High School, and her friend Danny Tyrone did not talk for hours after arguing ping-pong fights, Tyrone said. The Athletic:. They both held a knee hockey tournament in their dormitory, using their artistic skills to build a cup, but when their team lost, they had to leave the room to cool off. At the end of one defeat in Avalanche in 2019, McKinnon lost his composure on the bench, splashing his green Gatorade water bottle, hitting coach Jared Bednar.

Now 26-year-old McKinnon has emerged as his more mature version. His competitive flame is still there, but over the last few years he has invested resources in food, fitness and sports psychology. So while he was disappointed, of course, after Game 5 he spoke in a more balanced tone than in previous years. He focused on the future, on what he still believed his teammates could achieve.

And Avalanche justified those words by returning to the third round on Friday, winning 3-2 against the “blues”, sending McKinnon to his first final of the Western Conference. And although the star player did not dominate the statistics, the underlying numbers were excellent. The Avalanche had 81.65% of the expected “5 Five” goals in the 6th game on the ice with them. A natural statistical trickև had 11 goal moments, allowing only three.

Nathan McKinnon gets a chance to score in the shadow of Ryan O’Reilly. (Dilip Viswanat / Getty Images)

“It’s a playoff night” Kale Makar He said about MacKinnon ‘s performance in Game 5, but his words referred to his teammate in Game 6. “We do not expect anything less.”

In the second round, McKinnon came out almost exclusively against Ryan O’Reilly. The Blues captain նախկին The former Avalanche player is one of the best defensive strikers in the league, և he won the 2019 Con Smith and Selke Cups. And although McKinnon’s points against St. Louis were lower than in previous rounds, he still finished in the standings. seven points in six game series.

O’Reilly և MacKinnon played against each other for more than 80 minutes at five-five. The Blues had a goal-scoring advantage in those minutes (4-3), but Colorado dominated the ball’s shots, helping to wear down the Blues’ goalkeeper and defense. The Avalanche had 66.86% of the expected goals against the five when McKinnon’s O’Reilly shared the ice, beating the Blues 43-22, their endangered 19-11. McKinnon, entering the series, said that “the best defense is a good attack, a patient attack” – that’s what he provided.

MacKinnon, Avalanche’s third longest-serving player, lived up to the franchise’s face, showing that he can dominate when the moment is most intense. He is the former No. 1 general team that has flourished and become NHL: superstar և he will now be able to play on a bigger stage than he did in his first eight years.

“It means a lot,” he said after Avalanche’s 3-2 victory over the Blues on Friday. “It simply came to our notice then. “It’s a pleasure to cross this pile, for sure.”

Really dark times. After leaving for the playoffs in 2013-14, his new year, McKinnon returned to the post-season until 2017-18. The three intermediate seasons showed a sad 2016-17 season, when Colorado finished with the worst 48 points in the league. The next closest team, Vancouver, had 69.

But Avalanche progressed under Bednar, eventually becoming a threat to the Stanley Cup. They just could not overcome that boring pile of the second round. This year the pressure has reached a high point. At the beginning of the season, during the ESPN broadcast, bench reporter Emily Kaplan said that the Vegas player shouted at the Colorado reserve bench. “Get out of the second round, why not?” Then, general manager Joe Sakic went all-in at the trading deadline, adding the like. Arthur Lehkone և: Josh Manson.

“I know how much our players want (to win),” said Bednar. “I’ve been with many of these guys for six years, some of them have been here before me, I’ve had discussions with them. It’s hard for even the young guys we brought in trying to win. It is really difficult. “

Due to the difficulty in the playoffs, McKinnon stressed that he enjoys traveling. He certainly did that in the crucial 6th game against St. Louis. He was the first player to raise his hands after that Darren Helm He shot at the winner, quickly joining the crowd of celebrating teammates. And when the last horn sounded, he skated straight on Darcy Kumperjumping into his arms in front of the avalanche net.

“Soon there will be only four teams, it is obvious that the work is not over, but it is a great achievement for us,” he said. “I thought we had surpassed them for most of the series, definitely tonight. We deserved a good jump there at the end. “

It would have been even sexier if MacKinnon’s main goal in Game 5 had won the series. But McKinnon is happiest when he wins, no matter how the victory turns out. And that’s what Avalanche did.

Quick hits

• Helm referred to the former Red Wings striker Darren McCarthy as one of the players he imitated at the beginning of his career, and McCarty said after the game that “he was personally frostbitten because D. “Helm is one of my children.”

“After all, your stars should be your stars, but your actors, they should do their job – at the right time (they can) do something special,” McCartney said in a text message. The Athletic:. “I could not be happier for a player; it could not have happened to a better person.”

• Goalkeeper Darcy Kumper had a tough line against the Blues, but he found his game a bit in the 6th game when he allowed a goal to be scored. Justin Folk. He was not perfect. Josh Manson saved him with a key block Jordan Kirou during the power play, but Kiru could not get past him for a moment, he did not allow a goal to be scored in the third period. He finished the series with a saving percentage of 0.892; he should have played better if Colorado was going to become a champion team, but the 6th game marked the performance from which he can build.

Adding more punches to Edmonton’s strong attack can help him find the rhythm. He spent a lot of time watching Avalanche play in his own attack zone և in the second round he faced only 26.2 shots in one game.

“I’m not going to complain about the guys playing the whole game there,” Kumper said. “It is, of course, a small challenge, to stay sharp and be ready for the next blow. I have a lot of confidence in the master: talent of our team that when we play like that, we will eventually score a goal. I just try to concentrate, not allowing (the opponent) to get someone else. ”

• Colorado will play Lubricants in the final of the conference. It’s going to be a star-studded game featuring McKinnon, Kale Makar, Miko Rantane, Gabriel Landescog, Conor McDavid, Leon Dryzitl և: Evander Kane.

• Manson’s father, Dave, is the assistant coach at Oilers. Եւ The father sent a message to his son before Game 6.

“He said. “Go win this game so I can come see my granddaughter,” Manson said. “It’s number one on his list. He wants to come to Colorado to see my daughter, his granddaughter. ”

• Veteran Avalanche striker Andrew Cogliano had a brief summary of his post-season philosophy.

“To feel sorry for yourself in the playoffs is death,” he said.

Cogliano helped form a strong fourth line with Helmi և Logan O’Connor և he rejoiced after the winner of Helmi’s game.

(Top photo of Nathan McKinnon: Jeff Carey / USA Today)

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