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Makar, MacKinnon among first-round standouts

Makar and Mackinnon are obvious choices, but who else stood out to us in the first round?

Colorado Avalanche vs Nashville Predators Game Four First Round Stanley Cup Playoffs Photo by Andy Cross/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche made quick work of the Nashville Predators in a round one sweep. Such success doesn’t come without standout performances from a few or more players. Let’s look at who made the most significant impact during round one and discuss what we can expect from them in the next series.

Cale Makar (3G, 7A - 10 pts)

Makar hasn’t just been the best player for the Colorado Avalanche, he has been the best player among any team in this year’s playoffs thus far. Just ask his teammate and fellow first-round standout Nathan MacKinnon.

It’s not about how many points Makar had against Nashville. It’s about when he got them. He is still the NHL’s leading playoff point getter despite only playing four games and, you know, being a defenseman. Cale scored or assisted on the winning goal in games two and four and has continued to exceed expectations when the pressure is on.

The second round will be more demanding than the first, no matter who the Avalanche end up facing. Both the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues bring a successful yet different approach to the table. That said, Cale hasn’t been shy inside of any of the big moments of his young career. I don’t expect him to start doing so now. The scary thing about Makar is that he is likely only to get better and better as the playoffs wear on.

Nathan MacKinnon (5G, 1A - 6 pts)

Nate Dogg has not disappointed Avalanche fans so far in the playoffs. MacKinnon, like Makar, registered at least a goal in every single game against the Preds. In fact, he started with a three-point night in a game one that featured two goals and one assist. He sits third all-time in points per game in the playoffs with 1.38 PPG and continues to solidify himself as one of the NHL’s best playoff performers.

It’s hard to slow down when the Colorado Avalanche train is rolling. MacKinnon is among the core of this franchise’s most talented and dangerous teams. With over fifty career playoff games under his belt, I’d expect MacKinnon to continue to meet the standards he imposes upon himself. That bodes well for the Colorado Avalanche.

Gabriel Landeskog (3G, 3A - 6 pts)

I can’t say enough about Gabe Landeskog’s performance in round one. Here is a guy who came back from mid-season knee surgery and had a four-point night in his third game back. I believe Avalanche fans have become so accustomed to Landeskog’s ceaseless will and effort that we sometimes fail to acknowledge it.

Landeskog’s poise and leadership skills will prove tremendously valuable in round two. No matter who wins between the Blues and Wild, the Avalanche will face a division rival in round two. Blood will boil, and tempers are bound to flare. Which squad will be able to harness the angst and channel it into victory?

Honorable Mentions

It would be remiss of me not to mention a few more guys that stood out against Smashville. Defender Devon Toews doesn’t get a lot of love mainly because his defensive partner is Cale Makar. However, we should note that Toews (5 pts) tallied one fewer point than Landeskog in round one and scored arguably the biggest goal of the series to tie things up in game four.

Another player that deserves a hat tip is netminder Pavel Francouz. Pavel proved how important it is to have a dependable backup on your playoff roster and stepped up for his teammates. Frankie stepped into game three essentially cold and held down the fort in the absence of Darcy Kuemper and won both games on the road.