The Colorado Avalanche have sent three forwards to the All-Star Game this weekend, making them one of two teams (along with the San Jose Sharks) to send three skaters to the NHL’s All-Star Weekend. They’re also the only team sending three forwards, marking the first time since 2016 a team has sent three forwards to the All-Star Game. As in the 2016 All Star Game, when Alex Ovechkin sat out with an injury, so will Nathan MacKinnon this weekend. With the new 3-on-3 format this is shaping up to be a very Avalanche heavy night - even if our brightest star is doing nothing more than standing on the bench in a nice suit.
Sending the entire first line is quite an accomplishment, and should help cement the Avalanche starters’ place as the top line in the league. Through fifty games, Mikko Rantanen sits at second in the league with 74 points (23 G 51 A), followed shortly by MacKinnon with 71 (27 G 44 A). Slightly behind them in points, but leading the team in goals with 29 is Gabriel Landeskog - who has also chipped in with 25 assists. MacKinnon and Rantanen both sit in the top 5 for points, while Landeskog is in the top 5 for goals scored.
The only other team coming close to that kind of single line production is the Calgary Flames. Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm have garnered 192 points to the Av’s 199. While the team may be struggling, the MGM line certainly isn’t and they deserve every second of All-Star glory they get.
Historically, teams with three or more forwards in the All-Star Game have been fairly successful. In Avalanche history, the team’s last Stanley Cup was won in a year where they sent Milan Hejduk, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg to the All Star Game.
Looking at more recent history, four other teams have sent three or more forwards to the All Star game in the past ten years. All four made the playoffs, although the 2011 Chicago Blackhawks and the 2012 Ottawa Senators only made it in as 8-seeds.
The Canucks run to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final is the most recent example of playoff success by a team who sent three forwards to the All Star Game. The goal for the Avs is certainly to translate this All-Star success into playoff success, mirroring the teams before them.
What makes the accomplishment of Colorado’s big-3 more significant is the fact that they all made the team with a roster that is significantly smaller than All-Star teams have been in the past.
Unfortunately, while all three hold rightful spots on the Central Division team, only two will be hitting the ice tonight as Nathan MacKinnon will skip the game due to a sore foot.
This Avalanche top line has been more than deserving of all the praise heaped upon them, and their efforts have been rewarded with a trip to the All Star game. The 3-on-3 tournament will be aired on NBC Sports Network starting at 8 PM ET/6 PM MT Saturday evening, with the Avalanche forwards appearing in the first game of the evening when the Central Division takes on the Pacific.