MacKinnon Given Fine From NHL
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was in some hot water with the NHL this past week for his on-ice actions.
The league handed down a $5,000 fine to MacKinnon for hitting Conor Garland of the Arizona Coyotes with his helmet during a skirmish.
The play happened in the third period of the Avalanche’s 9-3 win over the Coyotes on Wednesday night, and MacKinnon was given a game misconduct penalty on the ice as well. The Coyotes were pushing the league to suspend the Avalanche star, but the league did not feel that it warranted a suspension.
Garland and MacKinnon were battling for a puck along the boards when the Colorado center threw Garland to the ice and removed his helmet in the process. Things appeared to be settled back down by the officials, but MacKinnon threw the helmet back at Garland, immediately earning the misconduct penalty.
The NHL and the players have agreed to a maximum fine of $5,000 in the collective bargaining agreement, meaning that MacKinnon did receive the maximum penalty. Arizona was upset that more penalties weren’t issued on the play, even though the outcome of the game was already decided.
A war of words ensued in the media after the game was over, and Colorado coach Jared Bednar blamed the entire altercation on frustration on the part of the Coyotes. MacKinnon has already missed some time this season due to injury, and the Avalanche could not afford to have him out of the lineup again.
With both the Coyotes and Avalanche in the West Division, this could be a story to watch moving forward. Arizona has been one of the biggest surprise teams in the NHL this season.
Avalanche on a Roll
Things haven’t always gone smoothly for the Avalanche this season, but it was a great month of March. Colorado was the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup before the season began, and it has played like it over the last few weeks.
Entering Saturday night, the Avalanche had 52 points on the season, good enough for first place in the West Division. The Vegas Golden Knights had been on top of this season for weeks, but a red-hot run for the Avalanche allowed them to take the top spot.
Colorado just recently rattled off seven-straight wins to jump to the top of the West Division, and they were able to get right back on track after suffering a loss. As expected, it has been the goal-scoring and explosive attack that has carried the Avalanche so far this season.
The Avalanche are scoring more than 3.6 goals per game, and it has been MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen leading the way. Entering Saturday, MacKinnon leads the team with 30 assists while Rantanen has a team-high 21 goals and 43 points.
Despite being in first place in the West, the Avalanche are expected to be aggressive at the trade deadline to make this roster even better. The West Division is absolutely loaded with terrific teams, and Colorado will have its hands full in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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