On Saturday night the Colorado Avalanche took down the Minnesota Wild 4-2, in turn taking a 2-0 series lead and showing great promise. No player was more impressive on the night than Nathan MacKinnon, who not only looks like a genuine superstar at the age of 18, but has the Avalanche looking like realistic contenders for the Stanley Cup this spring.
During the victory on Saturday, MacKinnon compiled one goal, two assists, four shots on goal and two takeaways, teaming up with Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny to form an absolutely dominant first line. MacKinnon was the most impressive out of the trio though, as his incredible skating, ability to create opportunities with the puck, incredible strength and hockey sense belies the fact that he is only 18 years old, and has made him the best player during the first two games of the series. And in fact, after picking up six points through two games, he may have been the best player in the NHL thus far.
But what makes the Avalanche heavy favorites to continue beating down the Wild and to move deep into the playoffs, goes far beyond anything their star scorers have been doing. Starting from the back end out, Semyon Varlamov was absolutely fantastic during Game 2, the teams defensive unit as a whole has stymied an underwhelming Wild offensive unit, and the secondary offensive lines for Colorado have kept their foot on the peddle. Add in an atmosphere at Pepsi Center that few fan bases can match, and it appears that the Avalanche have a perfect storm brewing.
All of this isn’t to say that Colorado will have an easy go of things when the series transfers to Minnesota on Monday, but it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see them end up with a clean sweep. They simply have too much momentum in all three facets of the game to go cold suddenly, and there is no chance that Patrick Roy will let his troops drop their intensity level even one bit. Add in the fact that MacKinnon is arguably the most dynamic and hottest player in the NHL right now, and it seems certain that the Avalanche are on a straight path to a deep run in the NHL Playoffs.