|NATHAN MacKINNON, Avalanche|
|BEST IN CLASS (3-ZONE CARRY)|
Nathan MacKinnon had one of those bursts last night which reconfirm that one year soon he’ll have a breakthrough season that elevates him to the star level.
Four seasons into his career, he’s been a solid offensive contributor, but his statistics always seem to come up short when compared to the brilliance he often displays on the ice. On the other hand . . . give the kid a break, 203 career points and he’s only 21!
The first overall pick in the 2013 entry draft by the Avalanche, MacKinnon has yet to get a supporting cast that can make the most of his playmaking ingenuity. Last night against the Capitals, he showed he can play 1-on-5 hockey with the best in the league.
If there’s one area that MacKinnon has already established himself among the NHL’s elite, it’s in his ability to carry the puck through multiple zones and finish his rushes with goals. Only Connor McDavid has produced more goals when carrying the puck across the blue line. But MacKinnon after last night’s dazzler is hot on his tail, scoring his seventh such goal against McDavid’s league-leading eight. And this one was of the extra-special three-zone carry variety.
MacKinnon started in the center part of the ice in his own zone and never stopped. The Capitals waited until he reached their line before taking the rush seriously, but MacKinnon got by the pair by showing the puck to Dmitry Orlov and then slipping it between his skates. Matt Niskanen then tried first to wrap him up with his arm and, when that failed, chop down on MacKinnon’s stick as he approached the net.
But that too proved insufficient as MacKinnon kept motoring, polishing off his great rush by going to his backhand to beat Washington goalie Phillip Grubauer in tight to the net.
The Avalanche have a way to go on the NHL learning curve, but they have an excellent on-ice tutor in their midst.
|3/29/2017 vs. Washington|