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As Surprising Avalanche Pursue Playoff Spot, MacKinnon 'Playing Like Superstar'

By Michael Spencer

Former Colorado Avalanche player and current Avs analyst Mark Rycroft joined CBS4 sports anchor Michael Spencer on Xfinity Monday Live this week.

CENTENNIAL, Colo. (CBS4) - Entering Monday the Colorado Avalanche were in the final wild card spot in the Western Conference playoffs with just 14 games remaining.

That follows a season in which the Avs were the worst team in the NHL in 2016-2017.

"The whole season is shocking," said Rycroft when asked about the Avs. "Anybody who told you that they saw this coming is just flat out lying."

2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition - Fastest Skater
TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 27: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche competes in the Enterprise NHL Fastest Skater during the 2018 GEICO NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Amalie Arena on January 27, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)

Part of the reason for the Avs success has been the play of Nathan MacKinnon, who entered Monday tied with the 4th most points in the NHL with 81.

"MacKinnon went from a good player to arguably a Hart Trophy candidate," Rycroft said in reference to the award given to the NHL's Most Valuable Player.

Rycroft also credits the youth in the Avs locker room as a big reason for their success.

"They had a mix of old and mix of young last year, now it's all young. It's Gabe Landeskog's team. Nathan MacKinnon is now the number one guy. He knows it. He's playing like a superstar.

Gabriel Landeskog
Gabriel Landeskog of the Colorado Avalanche skates against Zach Hyman of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at the Air Canada Centre on January 22, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (credit: Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

"The excitement is here. The energy is here. They have a real chance to make the playoffs this year and they're dangerous."

The Avs will play the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday in Minnesota and then will travel to St. Louis to take on the Blues on Thursday.

Michael Spencer is a Sports Anchor at CBS4. Read his bio or connect with him on Twitter @MichaelCBS4.

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