Why is Mikko Rantanen not at the All-Star Game again? I ask a friend. Okay, about 20,000 of them.
“I don’t know,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar responded on Monday night when asked if Rantanen, his superb right winger, has enough respect in league circles. “I would say not likely, especially considering what he has done for us over the past few seasons.
“He really came into his own. I do not know. This line (Rantanen plus Nathan McKinnon and Gabe Landeskog) is talked about as one of the best, if not the best, in the league, so they’re gaining recognition. But then again – he finds a way to score goals, to come back even if he doesn’t feel very good, or it’s not his night, or he struggles a little, he finds a way to play one or two games in each game on the score sheet. .
“He was very consistent. It’s hard to do. Producing even when you’re not at your best is hard to do. It takes a special talent to do that.”
And Rantanen, at 25, is arguably putting together his most special season ever: On Wednesday night, he went up against Boston with 49 points in 37 games to put him on 101 points in 76 games.
Context: That figure would beat his previous season’s points record (87 in 2018-19) by 14. No. 96’s 22 goals in 37 games see him hit 45 after tilting at 76, a prediction that would have wiped out another personal best (31 goals in the 18-19 season).
Only four players have scored 150 goals in Avs/Nordiques history faster than the great Finn has played 368 games in burgundy: Peter Stasny (269), Michel Goulet (308), Joe Sakic (312) and Anton Stastny (344).
So how is he not an All-Star again?
Yes, yes, we know. Rules.
At least one All-Star representative from each team. If one position just ended up on the stack, well, dem breaks.
On the other hand, if you leave the top 10 scorers – Rantanen was seventh in the NHL with 49 points as of Wednesday – at home at the Mid-Winter Classic, you really serve the game?
Again I ask a friend.
On the fun Avs team, Nazem Kadri might be the most interesting Colorado player to watch given his current form. Which says something about the cast, which also features McKinnon and Cale Makar sharing center stage.
But the Avs aren’t where they are – Western Conference circle, undefeated Jan. 14-25 – without Rantanen. Silent Beatle. George Harrison of Avs, the perfect backdrop for McKinnon’s Lennon and Makar’s McCartney.
In the first 13 games of 2022, No. 96 scored the best eight goals in a month, tying McKinnon for Avs lead in points (19) and points per game (1.46).
“And Mikko just has this whole package,” Bednar continued. “The whole package. The size. Vision. Ability to score (and) play, play in traffic, play guys on the back.”
He will also put the team on his back when needed. By Wednesday night, the Avs were 14-3-0 up in 17 games in which Rantanen had scored at least once, going 15-5-3 when he didn’t. They were 22-4-0 when he scored even one point. And 5-4-2 when he didn’t.
How is he not in the All-Star Game again?
“I mean, I’m sure he has a lot of credibility across the league,” Bendar said. “But he probably could use, deserves, a little more.”
Much more, now that you mentioned it.
Justice may not be served at the All-Star Game in Vegas next month. But there is a feeling that Rantanen’s rebuff will come on the ice in the second half of the season, between the pipes, silent and deadly. The sweetest revenge is best served cold.