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Cale Makar a Norris Trophy finalist

June 9, 2021, 3:32 PM ET [6 Comments]
Rick Sadowski
Colorado Avalanche Blogger •Avalanche Insider • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Rather than rehash how the Avalanche blew a 2-0 third-period lead – and subsequently a 2-0 series lead -- in Tuesday’s 3-2 loss that has put them in a 3-2 hole heading into Game 6 in Las Vegas – my NHL.com game story below covers that – here’s some positive news for those who might be in despair:

Second-year defenseman Cale Makar is a finalist for the Norris Trophy along with the New York Rangers’ Adam Fox and Tampa Bay Lightning’s Victor Hedman.

“Obviously, I’m very honored to be recognized as a finalist for that award,” Makar said Wednesday before boarding the team’s charter flight to Las Vegas. “To be completely honest with you, it’s not something that’s at the forefront of my mind right now.”

Makar, who won the Calder Trophy last season as NHL Rookie of the Year, would become the first player in Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques history to win the hardware.

The 22-year-old finished sixth in scoring this season with 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) in 44 games, having missed 12 games because of injuries.

“I think it’s definitely earned,” coach Jared Bednar said. “I think the jump in his game has been on the defensive side of it. He’s always been able to produce on the offensive side, drives the play from the back end whether he’s leading the rush or joining it.

“He’s been a more consistent defender and a heavier defender for us this year and playing in more situations, including a little bit of time on the penalty kill. He’s developed into a real good all-around player as a defenseman. I think it’s well deserved.”

Makar’s 1.00 points per game average led all NHL defensemen, the second time in franchise history for a defenseman; Steve Duchense had 82 points in 82 games for Quebec in 1992-93.

Makar, 22, joins Rob Blake (third in 2001-02), Ray Bourque (second in 2000-01) and Sandis Ozolinsh (third in 1996-97) as the fourth Norris finalist in franchise history.

Fox, also in his second season, was second in points with 47 (five goals, 42 assists) in 55 games. Hedman was third in points with 45 (nine goals, 36 assists) in 54 games.

The three finalists for the Hart Trophy as MVP will be announced Thursday.

Here’s my NHL.com GAME STORY on Tuesday’s loss.

The schedule, all times MT
Game 1 --– Avalanche 7-1
Game 2 -- Avalanche 3-2 (OT)
Game 3 -- Vegas 3-2
Game 4 – Vegas 5-1
Game 5 – Vegas 3-2 (OT)
Game 6 Thursday -- at Vegas, 7 p.m.
*Game 7 Saturday -- at Avalanche, 5:30 p.m.
* If necessary

Here’s Bednar on playing Game 6 in Vegas, where the Avalanche will face first elimination game of the playoffs:

“I don’t care if it’s home or road and I don’t know that our guys do either. We’ve played real well (at Ball Arena), we’ve played well on the road this year too. We won games in Vegas (and) there’s no reason if we play the right way and clean up a couple of those decisions that we can’t get the job done in Vegas.”

It won’t happen without production from Nathan MacKinnon (no points in three straight games, one assist in four); Gabriel Landeskog (one assist past four); Andre Burakovsky (no goals in nine and a game-changing turnover Tuesday); Makar (two assists past four).

The Avalanche have combined for eight goals in the past four goals – five in three straight losses – after scoring seven in Game 1.

“It's a tough building,” Landeskog said of T-Mobile Arena. “This is the playoffs. We lost one at home, we have to go on the road and win one and bring it home for Game 7.”

Bednar said he “loved” the lines he shuffled Tuesday. These were the combinations:

Brandon Saad – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog – J.T. Compher – Valeri Nichushkin
Andre Burakovsky – Tyson Jost – Logan O’Connor
Alex Newhook – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Joonas Donskoi

Defense pairings were the same:

Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Ryan Graves – Samuel Girard
Patrik Nemeth – Conor Timmins

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