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Nathan MacKinnon Finding His Game from Last Season

Despite a slow start to the season, reigning Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon seems to be find his game once more in Colorado.

Nathan MacKinnon
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UNIONDALE, N.Y. — Nathan MacKinnon and the rest of his Colorado Avalanche teammates were not happy when they left the ice at Nassau Coliseum.

The Avalanche had just gotten routed by the surging New York Islanders 6-0 for their sixth loss in their last eight games. It certainly was a game to forget for everyone involved on the visitor side of the building, but leading up to the game MacKinnon had been playing strong hockey for the Avalanche.

The reigning Calder Trophy winner had six points (four goals, two assists) in the previous 10 games. Ironically it was the Avs’ first game against the Islanders, back on October 30, that reignited MacKinnon. He scored his first two goals of the year in that game as the Avalanche went on to beat the Isles 5-0.

MacKinnon scored in the next two games before cooling off a bit, but teammate Jarome Iginla can see the 19-year-old finding his game again.

“I think you can see it coming,” Iginla said on Tuesday. “I think out of the beginning of the gate I know the feeling, you come back, you want all the things to go well and happen. He probably was pressing just a bit.”

The young forward has a lot to live up to following an impressive rookie season that saw him record 24 goals and 39 assists for 63 points.

MacKinnon did not start the year off as hot as he would have liked. He only had three points — all assists — through the first 10 games of the season before finally hitting the back of the net.

The former first overall draft pick acknowledged the expectations of last year’s success, but isn’t letting that weigh on him too much.

“Obviously it’s always in the back of your head, but it’s something I don’t really care about per se,” he said. “I don’t think other people’s expectations are going to really influence my game too much. I feel like I know myself pretty well and everybody around here is a great player, so it definitely takes the weight off my shoulders.”

MacKinnon has had the luxury of playing on the same line as Iginla, including on Tuesday night. He says he’s enjoyed playing alongside a future hall of famer. “It’s always cool to talk to a guy like that and play with him,” MacKinnon said.

And Iginla has enjoyed his time alongside the Avalanche star, along with being impressed by the way he plays.

“He creates so much with his speed, but he’s strong too,” Iginla said describing MacKinnon’s game. “He’s strong in the corners. He’s a very competitive guy, but the thing that stands out most is his speed. It’s ridiculous his few steps and the pressure he puts on the D. The space he creates for other guys because of that. He does a lot of things very well, but the speed is second to none.”

As for what was the turning point was for his game, MacKinnon was not entirely sure.

“I don’t know. Sometimes things click, sometimes they don’t,” he said. “For me the best game of the season I played I had no points and sometimes that’s the way it works. Sometimes you don’t play as well and get an assist and sometimes you play a good night and you don’t get anything. Hockey is a funny sport like that, but it usually seems to work itself out.”

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