Nashville Predators: X-Factors to Watch in 1st Round Against Colorado

NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 18: Filip Forsberg
NASHVILLE, TN - NOVEMBER 18: Filip Forsberg /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
3 of 7
Next
NASHVILLE, TN – FEBRUARY 23: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Nashville Predators during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on February 23, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – FEBRUARY 23: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche skates against the Nashville Predators during an NHL game at Bridgestone Arena on February 23, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Nathan MacKinnon

The Avalanche have their own secret weapon that has the skills to make this series interesting. MacKinnon has burst onto the scene this season, shattering his career high in goals (39) from his previous four NHL seasons. He had a 14-game point streak that ended in late March, and he’s not appearing to slow down.

MacKinnon is in the conversation for the Hart Trophy, and rightfully so. He can do it all at the center position and will be a major challenge for the Predators. What makes MacKinnon tough for the opposition is his versatility. He has stick skills, above average skating ability and can get physical if needed. The fact that he’s transformed from a 20-goal scorer to nearly 40 goals this season is eye-opening. The Predators can’t let him take over this series and stretch this thing out to seven games.

Against the Predators this season, MacKinnon’s play is mixed bag. He has two goals, but a plus-minus of minus-six. My biggest question is can he live up to the pressure of the playoffs, and in a hostile environment like Bridgestone Arena will bring. He has the tools, but can he do it mentally as hell have to do a lot of heavy lifting for his team.