DALLAS — How will Nathan MacKinnon remember this season?
“I’ll try to forget it, honestly,” the Avalanche center said after the morning skate Thursday.
The 21-year-old MacKinnon, speaking hours before the Avalanche finished out its home season with a 4-3 loss to Minnesota, caught himself.
“No, I mean, winning and losing there’s stuff to look back on, and lately I feel we’ve been playing pretty good,” he said. “But we still have 54 losses and I’m sure there will be a big turnaround next year. There’s stuff to learn from, but I want to be as positive as I can. If you dwell on this year, it’s going to be tough coming into next year feeling good about yourself.
“I’m going to reflect and find stuff in my personal game that I need to get better at, but other than that, I’m going to try to forget about it.”
The Avalanche will close out the season with games at Dallas on Saturday and St. Louis on Sunday. MacKinnon will go into the weekend with 16 goals and 35 assists, totals considered underachieving and disappointing in his fourth season after going No. 1 overall in the NHL’s 2013 draft. Even as a rookie in 2013-14, when he won the Calder Trophy and the Avalanche surprisingly piled up 112 points, he had 24 goals and both he and the franchise seemed on the verge of great things.
This season also is a downturn after he had 21 goals in 2015-16. He has utilized his speed and dexterity to get 247 shots on goal, which ranked rank 16th in the NHL entering Friday, but his 6.5 shooting percentage was the worst among the league’s top 20 shooters.
Plus, his flashy play for the 23-and-under Team North America in the World Cup last September added to both his image and expectations.
MacKinnon also is suffering by comparison to the recent No. 1 overall choices, Connor McDavid of Edmonton, who will lead the league in scoring, and Auston Matthews of Toronto, who could crack 40 goals.
“I just want to come back and be effective,” MacKinnon said. “We’re going to have a high pick and (Tyson) Jost is here and wholesale nhl jerseys we have some young guys in the (AHL) and I want to be a good leader for them. I’ve recently been a young guy, only been a rookie a few years ago and it’s pretty fresh in my mind, things to do and things not to do and those are probably the things I want to bring next year.”
The Avalanche is 22-55-3 heading into the weekend.
“I don’t know exactly what went wrong, but when you lose that much, it’s tough to rebound from,” MacKinnon said. “And just the collapsing. When we were down 2-0 and all of a sudden we’re down 6-0 after the third period. We were in a lot of close games and we collapsed.
“We had some tough injuries, losing (Erik Johnson) for most of the year was hard and obviously (Semyon Varlamov) is a great goalie. Every time he made a push, he was thinking about his groin tearing. People gave him some heat for the way he played, but when you feel like you’re going to tear your groin every time you make a save, you feel bad for the guy. He’ll be back next year healthy and we have some motivated young guys coming in.”