Colorado has been on a nice offensive run lately — 15 goals in its last four games — and last year’s Calder Trophy winner thinks he knows why.
“We’ve been getting back to having fun,” Nathan MacKinnon said, per LA Kings Insider. “We’re a little bit looser, I think. We’re starting to generate some chemistry, obviously.
“It’s been a rough year in terms of goalscoring, but we’re trying to get some wins here.”
Putting pucks in the net has been a major issue this year for the Avs, who finished fourth in the NHL in goals per game (2.99) last season. The club currently sits 24th overall in offense, and there’s no shortage of culprits:
— Ryan O’Reilly, who led the team with 28 goals a year ago, has 10.
— Gabriel Landeskog, who scored a career-high 65 points last year, is on pace for 49.
— MacKinnon and Matt Duchene combined for 47 goals in ’13-14. This year, they have 24.
While advanced metrics predicted Colorado wouldn’t be able to sustain last year’s scoring clip — the Avs didn’t generate enough shots, weren’t a good possession team and had a high shooting percentage — this was still a talented squad that added a seasoned goalscorer in Jarome Iginla (who has been a terrific pickup, leading the team with 18 goals and 40 points thus far.)
Lately, the Avs have done a better job of firing pucks on goal.
Colorado has registered 30 shots or more in each of its last two games, no small feat for a team that averages the sixth-fewest in the NHL. They’ll need to keep that up tonight against Los Angeles, as the Kings only allow 27.2 per night (L.A. ranks second in the league in fewest shots allowed.)
Oh, one other thing worth mentioning about the Avs-Kings matchup — this is the first time the two have met this season. Considering how close they are in the standings (the Avs are five points back of the Kings heading into tonight’s action) and the fact they play each other two more times after tonight, this could end up being a series to watch in terms of playoff jockeying.