Nathan MacKinnon has been an unstoppable force through two games – both losses – in the Minnesota Wild's best-of-seven series against the Colorado Avalanche. The 18-year-old phenom was outstanding in game one, and even better in game two.
He pulled off the hockey version of basketball's crossover and nearly broke Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon's ankles when he scored in Game 2.
His seven points (six assists, one goal) are tied with teammate Paul Statsny for the NHL lead this postseason. Granted, both Colorado players have found quite a few holes in Minnesota goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who won't be the starting goalie tonight.
Darcy Kuemper will be. Head coach Mike Yeo announced in an interview with KFAN-FM 100.3 this morning that Kuemper and his "swagger" will start in goal.
Michael Russo of the Star Tribune reported Sunday that Kuemper would be the likely starter. He stopped all 14 shots he faced in relief of Bryzgalov.
“Playoff hockey, you dream about playing in that,” Kuemper said, according to Wild.com. “To get back in there and get a chance to get in that action was a lot of fun. I was excited to get that opportunity.
“If I do get the start, I’m really excited. It’s a big game for the team and I want to do my part and I’m sure everyone is going to do their part to try and come out with a win.”
Minnesota has caught a break with Matt Duchene likely to miss the remainder of the series, although he'll skate with the Avalanche during Monday's practice, according to the Denver Post. Duchene is Colorado's leading scorer. A knee injury has kept him sidelined since March 29.
"Both teams are starting to get (ticked) off with each other, and that's when it becomes a series," Yeo said in the interview. Game 3 should be exciting. The puck drops at Xcel Energy Center at 6 p.m.
By the way, Governor Mark Dayton declared today "Go Wild Day," according to KSTP. Bust out your Wild colors and hope they can find a way to slow down MacKinnon and the Avs.