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First Round

Avalanche lines undecided for Game 2 against Flames, coach says

Rantanen could be reunited with MacKinnon, Landeskog

by Aaron Vickers / NHL.com Correspondent

CALGARY -- The Colorado Avalanche haven't decided if forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen will play together on a more permanent basis in the Western Conference First Round against the Calgary Flames.

Colorado lost Game 1 4-0 on Thursday. Game 2 of the best-of-7 series is at Calgary on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, ALT).

"We're thinking about shuffling some things around," Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. "It's difficult just to assess it in one game, I think, for me, because I didn't like a handful of our forwards. We all know creating offense is a five-man job, never mind a three-man job, and if you've got a guy not at his best on each line, it takes away from the line. We expect some of those guys to be better.

"We've had some meetings this morning. Guys have a pretty good, accurate assessment of last night's game in the way they played as individuals and some of the things we weren't great at as a team. That's positive. We all feel we can be better in certain areas and we look to do that tomorrow night."

 

[RELATED: Complete Flames vs. Avalanche series coverage]

 

Rantanen started Game 1 at right wing with Carl Soderberg and Colin Wilson on the second line before being reunited with MacKinnon and Landeskog on the top line in the third period in Game 1. It was his first game after missing the final eight of the regular season because of an upper-body injury.

"I think the first two periods, we were as a line chasing the puck probably a little bit too much," Rantanen said. "The third period, I started to feel a little bit better. Held onto the puck a bit more and got more puck touches."

MacKinnon led the Avalanche with 99 points (41 goals, 58 assists), Rantanen was second with 87 points (31 goals, 56 assists), and Landeskog was third with 75 points (34 goals, 41 assists) in the regular season, accounting for 41 percent of Colorado's total goals (106/258) and factoring in on 55 percent (141/258).

"We're pretty sure that's going to happen throughout (the Avalanche changing lines)," Flames coach Bill Peters said. "That's a change that can be made in 20 seconds. We talked about that in the morning (Thursday) … the lines you see tomorrow in the skate for either team might not be the lines you see in the game. Obviously, for us, the advantage you have at home and what you work so hard for in the regular season is to have home-ice advantage so you can potentially have matchups if you perceive they're important.

"The beautiful thing for us is we have confidence in all four lines. On the road, we can play everybody against everybody, so we're fine."

MacKinnon and Rantanen combined for 186 points (72 goals, 114 assists) in the regular season, the most by two Avalanche teammates since Peter Forsberg and Milan Hejduk combined for 204 points (79 goals, 125 assists) in 2002-03.

Add in Landeskog, and Colorado had three players score at least 30 goals for the second time. Joe Sakic (51), Claude Lemieux (39), Valeri Kamensky (38) and Forsberg (30) each did it in 1995-96.

"I was watching Mikko play, and their line, although those lines were good on the defensive side of the puck, we didn't get a lot going on the offensive side of things," Bednar said. "We had some, what I call passengers, or guys that weren't at their best last night. You try to get guys back together based on their history and based on what they're doing that night.

"[Landeskog] and [MacKinnon] were both pretty good, and Mikko started to come on as the game went on, knocked a little bit of rust off his game in probably the first 30 minutes. He was getting better. I felt maybe those guys could have an impact, so I popped them back together."

However, Bednar wouldn't confirm whether that line would be together for the start of Game 2.

"I haven't decided yet," he said.

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