MacKinnon, Soderberg lines have been reunited
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The Avalanche’s breakup experiment is over, at least for now.
The Gabriel Landeskog-Nathan MacKinnon-Mikko Rantanen line has been reunited (again) for Tuesday’s game against Columbus at the Pepsi Center.
“They’ve been successful in the past, so we might as well give them the best chance,” coach Jared Bednar said after practice Monday. “We’ve tried them together, we’ve tried them apart recently, and we’ve seen good play out of them in both situations, but I think we’ve just got to get them back together and see if they can help us get a win here.”
Bednar also is putting the Matt Nieto-Carl Soderberg-Matt Calvert line back together.
“We’ve bounced guys around and not gotten exactly what we wanted out of it or what we thought might happen,” he said. “You get the big line back together, you get Soderberg’s line back together.”
The other lines: J.T. Compher will center Alexander Kerfoot and Colin Wilson, while Sheldon Dries will center Sven Andrighetto and Gabriel Bourque.
Bednar wouldn’t reveal the starting goalie.
While the top line has been terrific, Soderberg and his linemates were playing a solid two-way game before Bednar started shuffling forwards around in an attempt to create a more balanced attack.
Soderberg already has scored a career-high 17 goals while Calvert has chipped in eight, one fewer than he had in 69 games with Columbus last season. It hasn’t gone so smoothly for Nieto, who has four goals in 48 games after scoring a career best 15 last season.
“They’ve been a consistent line,” Bednar said. “Those guys play a similar style, they check hard. I really liked Nieto’s game the other night. He was playing through people and on pucks, so maybe bumping them back together might bring out the best in all three of those guys.”
Nieto made a nice play to set up the Avalanche’s only goal Saturday in their 5-1 loss to Vancouver, feeding Nikita Zadorov for a shot that Calvert converted with a deflection.
“Our main goal is to bring energy,” Calvert said. “Whether we finish our offense or not, it’s about creating zone time, playing hard. Secondary scoring is a huge part and we have to keep working at it.
“Me and (Nieto) talked about it; we have to start being game breakers, start trying to make a difference and push it to that next level. I know our game can go there. Soda is having an unbelievable year for himself and we have to try and feed off of him.”
Calvert spent his first eight NHL seasons with the Blue Jackets. He signed a three-year, $8.55 million contract on July 1 with the Avalanche as a free agent. He said he’ll get reacquainted with former teammates Monday night.
The Avalanche have skidded into ninth place in the Western Conference, two points behind Vancouver, which has the second wild card playoff position, and one point in front of four teams before Monday's games.
“We’re not happy with the last few months,” Calvert said. “We have to approach every game like a playoff game because we’re on the outside looking in now and it’s going to be a dogfight. I hope a lot of guys get that hunger back in their game.”