The greatest Avalanche lines in club history each feature a Sakic or Forsberg, and there’s a Hejduk or Tanguay in many of them. A Brunette or Stastny also helped create an elite threesome that was considered among the NHL’s most dangerous at that time. For fans and those affiliated with the Avs, it’s fun to look back on the great lines of the past that always offered game-turning promise when they hopped on the ice for a shift — like a home-run hitter stepping to the plate in the ninth inning of a tie game. Currently, the Avs have three forwards who make up a line that has the potential for greatness. Center Nathan MacKinnon, 22, and his wingers Gabe Landeskog, 25, and Mikko Rantanen, 21, offer the necessary fear-factor to be considered a great NHL line. They’re each on pace for career seasons, with MacKinnon a sure-fire NHL all-star in next month’s mid-winter classic in Tampa, Fla. “They’re a line when teams come play us, they’re keying on them. They’re talking about them, for sure,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of MacKinnon’s line. “That’s what makes you an elite line in the league. To earn that, you have to have other coaches worrying about the way you play, and I believe other teams coming in to play us have to worry about that line.” Dubbed the “McLaren Line” by a fan last week on Twitter — Mac-La-Ra — MacKinnon is the extraordinary speedster who entered Saturday’s game at Arizona leading the team with 15 goals and 40 points in 34 games. He was tied for 10th in the league in scoring, and was on a four-game points streak (four goals, seven points). Landeskog’s 14 goals is just four shy of what the power forward had last season. And Rantanen, a natural left-shooting right winger, is already halfway to his team-leading 20 goals of last season. “We were all here last year and I think we all have a chip on our shoulder to prove that we can be elite players in this league,” MacKinnon said. “Commitment to the organization is a big thing too.” Ah, commitment to the team. Is it just coincidence that the MacKinnon line has taken off since disgruntled center Matt Duchene was traded Nov. 4? “We want to be here. We want to be a solution to this thing,” Landeskog said of himself and his linemates. “It’s something we bond over. It’s not being said much but It’s something that drives us.” The best Avalanche lines in team history must include center Joe Sakic and wingers Alex Tanguay and Milan Hejduk in the early 2000s, and Peter Forsberg centering Valeri Kamensky and Claude Lemieux in 1995-96 and the following year. In 2002-03, Forsberg mostly played with Tanguay and Hejduk when Forsberg won the Hart (MVP) and Art Ross (leading scorer) trophies and Hejduk took home the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy (highest goal-scorer).
Nathan MacKinnon’s line has the potential for greatness with Avs
Denver Post | Dec 26