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Beyond the Streak: Nathan MacKinnon a Catalyst for Team Unity and Success

Meghan Angley Avatar
March 29, 2024

It’s quite the feat. Until March 28th, every victory in Ball Arena included Nathan MacKinnon’s handiwork. That’s 28 of 35 games in his impressive home point-streak. 

The Colorado Avalanche have the best home record in the league, and MacKinnon undoubtedly played an integral part in getting them there.

At some point, MacKinnon became his only competition. He achieved two separate 19-game point-streaks inside the 2023-24 campaign – each a career-high. Both marked the third-longest runs in Avs/Nordiques history.

MacKinnon has mathematically clinched at least a share of the two-longest point-streaks that the NHL will see this season.

The 35-game home point-streak is the second-longest in NHL history, trailing only Wayne Gretzky’s 40-game run when he recorded a point in every home game during the 1988-89 season.

The last time MacKinnon did not register a point on home ice was April 13, 2023.

Nathan MacKinnon’s home point-streak may have come to an end, but his impact on the Avs has dynasty implications.

It’s a shame that the game to snap his streak will be regarded with scrutiny.

MacKinnon did play a pivotal role in one of Colorado’s goals against the New York Rangers. He directly set up the play.

Cale Makar’s shot was blocked and MacKinnon battled Mika Zibanejad along the boards to regain possession. MacKinnon stick-handled through two Rangers to escape with the puck and set Devon Toews up out high. Toews snapped the puck on net and Ryan Lindgren accidentally tucked the puck in, in an attempt to help Shesterkin freeze the puck.

Mikko Rantanen’s stick was right there to bang it in too, but Lindgren had the inside track.

As a result, Toews was awarded the goal unassisted. 

Even Cale Makar didn’t realize that MacKinnon didn’t get the point when he was asked about it in the postgame.

Jared Bednar said that there is a review process, “You can look at it if you have video proof that there’s an assist,” he said. But, the NHL’s hockey operations department is not going to make a change to the official scoring.

Bednar also clarified how the streak impacted his decisions with the team.

“I don’t think about the streak when we’re playing,” he said. “Certainly we’ve been trying to keep it going as a group, I think everyone’s excited for it.”

When asked if it acted as a distraction ever, Bednar was quick to shut that down.

“I don’t think so. I think it’s a positive thing. Guys are excited for him. Guys get excited on our team when other players hit milestones and have big nights. It’s a tight group in there.”

Bednar reflected on the streak too. “It’s incredible. It just speaks to the consistency and the high level of play for that long…You look at who he’s trying to track down: Gretzky at 40.”

Once Makar learned that MacKinnon’s streak had ended, he offered a supportive comment.

“It’s one game… It’s not like he took the night off. He was still finding ways to generate and stuff like that. Sometimes those bounces don’t go your way. It just goes back to us as a group, making sure that we do a better job supporting each other on the ice and just giving each other better scoring opportunities whether he’s going to the net or we’re getting shot from the point.”

Alexandar Georgiev expressed a similar sentiment.

“Super impressive, I mean, incredible player,” he started. “It’s hard to get ten (points in a row), and he’s been scoring every game…  I’m sure he was more concerned about us winning and making the playoffs. He was not cheating at any point of the game. He was playing smart hockey, playing defense – so big respect.”

Not only do his teammates’ comments reinforce what Bednar said about the closeness of the group, it presents a unified front.

Nobody thought MacKinnon left anything on the table.

Looking at the Rangers game on the whole, the Avs controlled the final periods of regulation and made a strong effort.

It came down to a thin margin of error against one of the best teams in the league, two heavyweights going at it.

It’s disappointing to see it come to an end, but MacKinnon’s historic season isn’t finished.

He’s neck-and-neck with Nikita Kucherov for the league lead in points. Where MacKinnon continues to have an edge is his individual, five-on-five production: MacKinnon has 68 points at 5v5 to Kucherov’s 59.

He’s at 123 points today and on pace for 139 points. At 45 goals with nine games to go, they’re in the home stretch and his first ever 50 goal season is still a possibility.

His impact is further reflected in overall 5v5 scoring as a team – when MacKinnon is on the ice, Colorado has the highest goal-share of anyone in the league (87).

In five minutes of overtime against the Rangers, MacKinnon played 3:10 and it wasn’t because Bednar desperately tried to get him his point.

“Usually with Nate, he’s going until he tells me he needs a breather… He’s pretty responsible that way… If he’s feeling good, he goes again. If he’s not, he’ll tell me he needs a breather. We put somebody else out,” Bednar said.

“He’s the most dangerous guy out of the forward group especially, so I like to move him around with a couple of different guys.”

MacKinnon’s skating distance is in the 99th percentile along with his shot generation, speed, and goal scoring. His bid for the Hart Trophy is bigger than his scoring contributions.

He has a motor that never quits and a physical edge that he can unleash at will.

It might not be his strength, but he’s not above some of the dirty work that comes with tending to your own end.

Colorado’s winning culture runs through MacKinnon. He leads by example and has set the standard for how each member of the team should strive to conduct themselves.

They might be a little late to leave on the road because their postgame recovery includes long bike sessions, but his attention to detail is an asset.

“He’s pushing other guys to do it, which makes us better,” Bednar said. “And as a coach, you just go along with it…Instead of getting in at 1 (a.m.), we get in at 2. But it works for him. And he’s the one leading us.”

It’s easy to follow a guy like that into battle and it’s no wonder his teammates are all rooting for him during his continued special season.

Mourn the point-streak today, but get excited for what’s to come. The 2022 team was special, but they didn’t have this version of Nathan MacKinnon.


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