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Game #79 – Hawks vs. Avalanche Q&A: Thrax…Gimme Thrax…

It was only five games ago we lowered the shark cage and let @AnthraxJones snarl and yell and chew on the bars Not much has changed since. Here’s what he had to say then. 

Nathan MacKinnon is on a 110-point pace, even though he missed a little time. Why has he become Asgardian this season?

We knew he had this in him, we saw it in the World Cup with the NAU23 team when he stood out over everybody on the roster, including Connor McDavid. Two days earlier this season may have been what evolved mild-mannered Nathan MacKinnon from “maybe we should’ve taken Barkov or Seth Jones” to “Indestructible Cyborg Nathan MacKinnon”: a late-October 7-0 loss to Vegas that saw him wheel and fight Brayden McNabb after a bad hit, and you could tell he was taking out his frustration from a slow start on McNabb. Second was when the Avs traded Eeyore to Ottawa and suddenly there was a vacuum at the top of the lineup, which happened a few days after the Vegas debacle. Part of me wonders if something in Duchene’s attitude was keeping MacKinnon from wanting to really take ownership of the team in a leadership capacity, but whatever it was, it seemed to lift after the trade.

Your Special Boy Mikko Rantanen is also a point-per-game. Tell us why he’s your Special Boy. 

He’s our Big Baby Deer. It’s remarkable that he’s had the season he’s had so far, because he’s one of the most awkward-looking players I’ve ever seen. He looks like a large horse that still hasn’t figured out its legs yet. It makes me hopeful that he still has another gear to get to when he does get himself coordinated. He’s a smart player who finds himself in the right places at the right times, he has murderous hands for a kid his size, and he benefits from playing with Cyborg 29 and Angry Hossa, Babe Landeskog.

Two kids in Alex Kerfoot and Tyson Jost are on the second line. How have their rookie seasons gone?

Kerfoot and Jost have inverted one another so far. Kerfoot started the season blazing hot, and has really cooled down since then, which is natural for a kid who isn’t used to playing this many games against adult men with Dad Strength, instead of physics majors at RPI. Jost started slow and battled injuries, but for the past month or so it looks like something is clicking with him. They’re both gonna be good NHLers, but I think their future roles are still undetermined.
Are the Avs done treating Tyson Barrie like a redheaded stepchild and accept he’s actually quite good and necessary?

If the Avs don’t, they better listen to their superstar player, who’s not only best friends with Barrie, but also shares a brain with him on the ice. Their chemistry is ridiculous, and it’s truly a symbiotic benefit where they both make each other better. I haven’t always been on board with the idea of Tyson Barrie as a long-term piece on this roster, especially once Cale Makar hits the NHL roster, but I think it would be a mistake to trade him this offseason.

They going to make the playoffs?

They shouldn’t, but they’re gonna, and it’s because the Central Division beyond Nashville and the Mole People in Winnipeg ranges from desperately mediocre to downright bad. I’d love to see a first round matchup between Colorado and Vegas so we can never pay attention to pre-season “expert picks” ever again, but also because I think Vegas is gonna get picked off by whoever they play in the first round. The Avs aren’t deep enough to beat a Nashville type team in the second round, but every great team has to experience that first tough loss sometime, and I think this is that season.


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