Though it’s hard to pinpoint just one standout from the high-flying North American team at the World Cup, speedy Avs forward Nathan MacKinnon was certainly in the conversation.
Now, MacKinnon wants that tournament success to translate over to the regular season — and he’s confident Colorado’s coaching change will make it happen.
Is [Jared] Bednar’s system different from what the Avalanche did under Patrick Roy?
“Yeah, it is,” MacKinnon said. “Now every puck we get, we want to move it up quickly and use our speed and not wait and go D-to-D, back to D and slow the game down.
“We have very good skaters on our team, and we want to use that.”
One of the blueliners responsible for moving the puck quickly, Tyson Barrie, echoed those sentiments.
“There’s going to be no messing around with the puck, no playing around with it in our end, in the neutral zone,” Barrie said of Bednar’s system, per NHL.com. “We’re going to be pushing the pace, getting it into the forwards’ hands. We’re going to play fast and our defensemen are going to be jumping.
“I’m super impressed.”
Not utilizing Colorado’s speed was considered one of Roy’s major failings as head coach. With the likes of MacKinnon and Matt Duchene in the mix, it seemed like playing an uptempo game was the obvious choice — yet, as stated above, the Colorado blueliners were instructed to play more east-west than north-south.
That figures to change under Bednar.
In his previous stop, Columbus’ AHL affiliate in Lake Erie, Bednar led a high-octane group that had no problem finding the back of the net. The Monsters led the American League in playoff scoring en route to the Calder Cup, and did it with a talented, versatile blueline that delivered pucks to the forwards.
Needless to say, Colorado should be a fascinating team to watch this year.