The Avalanche are off to as good of a start as they could ask for in the Western Conference bubble in Edmonton. They took the defending Stanley Cup champions to the wire and beat them by the skin of their teeth. They crushed a team they could not beat in the regular season. And the took a phenomenal Vegas team to overtime before Alex Tuch buried a puck past the man known as Phillip Grubauer to claim the No. 1 seed.
But the star of the team has not been the expected headliner. Through three round-robin games and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Coyotes, the Avalanche’s regular season MVP, and possible league MVP, Nathan MacKinnon has one goal and four assists, good for a tie for first place on the Avalanche in the bubble. But MacKinnon has not been the best player on the ice for the Avalanche.
The Avs best player through four games in the bubble has been Nazem Kadri, the offseason addition from Toronto. He is tied for the team lead in points, with five, with MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. He is also the only one of the trio to have multiple goals in Edmonton.
The two goals that Kadri has scored in the restart have been the two most-impactful goals the Avs have put in the net. His final millisecond, buzzer-beating rocket against the Blues in the first round robin put the Avalanche in the driver seat through the seeding round. That’s a role the Avs embraced and continued with a 4-0 shutout of the Stars. Kadri’s latest goal, the first goal of the Avs’ 3-0 victory over the Coyotes on Wednesday night, opened the floodgates against a goaltender in Darcy Kuemper who has been nothing short of spectacular in the restart. Kadri’s ability to crash the net and wreak havoc on opposing defenses has led to two timely goals that set the Avalanche up for success.
Oh yeah, and he has registered a point in every single game the Avalanche have played in Edmonton, recording the game winning goal against the Blues, an assist in the 4-0 blowout against the Stars, and assisting on two of the Avs three goals in their 4-3 loss to the Golden Knights. Until Nathan Mackinnon starts to take over games and prove yet again that he is the best player on the ice, the Avalanche playoff MVP is their grizzled playoff veteran, Nazem Kadri.
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