AVALANCHE

Nathan MacKinnon knew the Avs didn’t have the team to repeat

Sep 21, 2023, 9:29 AM

Nathan MacKinnon had a career-high 111 points as the Colorado Avalanche attempted to join the rare list of teams to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions.

Yet MacKinnon will tell you he came to the realization at some point last year that the Avs didn’t have what it took to be in that elite group. Changes to the roster, injuries and some drama, hampered Colorado and led to a first-round knockout.

“I just don’t think we had the team to win it last year,” MacKinnon said on Wednesday. It just felt like we never really had it last year all season… I think we’re all very motivated this year to get our standard back. You have to be pretty near perfect to get the job done.”

MacKinnon and the Avalanche hit the ice again on Thursday, looking to again climb the mountain. They have more or less the same core that won the Stanley Cup two seasons ago, but are down to about 15 players left from that team. Colorado hasn’t necessarily made a big splash but have locked up the core and have attempted at incremental improvements around it.

Maybe the biggest change since the Avs won the cup is who is in net, key backup Pavel Francouz is still in Denver but starter Darcy Kuemper is long gone. Yet the Avalanche may have gotten better at the position with newcomer Alexandar Georgiev posting a better save percentage and goals against average in his first year in Colorado than Kuemper did elsewhere last season.

The goalie change plus some key players who were added at the deadline the year Colorado won the cup now being here to stay was thought to be enough to get Colorado back to the level. We’ll see if it is enough this season now that the team finally had some time to rest.

“I think it can help with the hunger again. With all the injuries we had at the end of last season, the competitor wants you to go far in the playoffs,” head coach Jared Bednar said. “But a longer summer… looking at the big picture, I don’t think it’s a terrible thing.”
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