Apr 1, 2014, 2:16 PM EDT
You’re a playoff-bound team that just lost your leading scorer (and No. 1 center) for the remainder of the regular season. What do you do?
Promote the 18-year-old. Obviously.
That’s what the Colorado Avalanche are doing tonight in Columbus — rookie Nathan MacKinnon will man the middle of the club’s top line between Jamie McGinn and Ryan O’Reilly, replacing the injured Matt Duchene.
“I’m comfortable at center,” MacKinnon said, per NHL.com. “I’m comfortable at wing as well. Down the road I might end up back at wing. We’ll see how it goes [Tuesday]. Hopefully we can create some early chemistry and play pretty well.”
MacKinnon played center in junior, but has spent the majority of this season at right wing and acquitted himself well, leading all first-year players in goals (23), assists (33) and points (51).
It’ll be interesting to see how MacKinnon, the first overall pick at the ’13 NHL Entry Draft, fares in the faceoff circle. Colorado isn’t a great faceoff team to begin with (49.4 percent, 18th in the league) and Duchene was one of the club’s most active guys on the draw, taking 1058 this year (winning 50.3 percent).
MacKinnon has been somewhat active — he’s fifth on the team, with 393 faceoffs taken — but is operating at just a 43.5 percent clip.
As for the rest of Colorado’s line juggling, Paul Stastny will center Gabriel Landeskog and John Mitchell, who jumps up from the third to second line. That’ll give the Avs a look of MacKinnon-Stastny-Marc-Andre Cliche–Brad Malone down the middle, though O’Reilly has played center extensively in the past and could move there without much issue.
- 2015 Norris Trophy finalists: Doughty, Karlsson and Subban 9
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 0
- Blues owner ‘disappointed and frustrated,’ but not ready to ‘throw people under the bus’ 17
- Despite ‘step in the right direction,’ do Canucks need to alter core? 11
- Report: Developers file intent to build arena in Seattle suburb 70
- Rangers lose Zuccarello indefinitely with suspected concussion 7
- Cooper: Lightning have to ‘suck it up’ and ‘fight through’ Wings’ interference 50
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 13
- Price makes 43 saves as Senators’ magical run ends in controversy 39
- Video: Fast whistle costs Senators potentially critical goal 15
- Too little, too late: Rangers stifle Penguins for 2-1 series lead (114)
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (110)
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance (98)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Friedman: Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin (85)