If you’re betting on offence, bet on the Colorado Avalanche. Their top line is the best top line in hockey right now.
Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog are fuelling the attack for the impressive Avalanche, who have 41 goals scored in a dozen games. Colorado will open November against the Flames and they are coming off a squeaker of a loss to the Wild, but the Avalanche have been fun to watch this season nevertheless.
The top unit has a combined 55 points this season so far, the most of any trio in the NHL. Boston’s David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are right behind them and just put on a show against the Hurricanes Tuesday.
Halifax’s MacKinnon has 18 points in 12 games, amounting to nine goals and nine assists. He’s a plus-12 player, with 52 shots on goal. And he spent the summer getting faster, which put his linemates on notice and sent Landeskog to practicing with the heavy sled to keep his own velocity a factor.
Landeskog’s workouts have been paying off and he’s rising through the ranks. If you like steady point production, the Stockholm native is your guy. He’s got 16 in 12, including 10 goals, and he’s a plus-14 on the Avalanche.
Nousiainen’s Rantanen is leading the NHL in scoring, but he’s in a dogfight with Bergeron and Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin. He has 21 points in a dozen games and is a plus-14, with 29 shots on goal. The 22-year-old is quickly becoming a force in the NHL.
Rantanen, like Landeskog, worked on speed during the off-season. He trained in Finland and held it down for repeated sprints, a series of high-intensity drills for 40 minutes a pop. The results are clear.
“I feel better on the ice. My first couple of steps, I feel faster,” said Rantanen. “I think there are still things I can work on and maybe get better next year. But I definitely think I’m faster than last year.”
What this all illustrates is more than just statistical folklore. The point here is that the Avalanche are on the right track, leading with speed and off-season training that puts quickness and agility ahead of clunky old-school hockey. While some may still relish the antediluvian aspects of the game, Colorado is geared toward the future in a way that teams like the Los Angeles Kings are not.
And that’s going to push them up the standings while individual performances take the spotlight, with the best line in hockey right now fortifying a series path for future team success.