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|Fair warning to the rest of the league: As fast and young as the Colorado Avalanche were this season Nate Orchard Jersey , general manager Joe Sakic vows to make them even faster and younger.
It’s become a full-speed-ahead priority.
That blend of quickness, youth and skill boosted the Avalanche from the bottom of the league a year ago to a playoff contender this season. Having an MVP candidate like Nathan MacKinnon leading the charge certainly didn’t hurt, either.
”We love the way we play the game,” Sakic said a day after the Avs were eliminated from the first round of the postseason by top-seeded Nashville in six games. ”It’s fast. It’s entertaining. It’s exciting.”
Few expected this kind of run from a Colorado team that had just 48 points in 2016-17. But youthful energy kept the Avalanche in the playoff chase until the end, where they earned the final postseason spot on the last day of the regular season. Their 47-point turnaround from a season ago matches the fourth-highest year-to-year improvement over a full season in NHL history, according to the team.
That bodes well. That is, once the sting of losing to the Predators fades.
”We’re going to stay the course and let this team grow because they deserve it,” said Sakic, whose squad was one of the league’s youngest with an average age of 25.8. ”We’re going to stay young and in the next couple of years may even get younger. If we can, even try to get a little bit quicker and faster out there.”
The Avalanche fully bought into the message of even-keeled coach Jared Bednar, who will be around two more seasons after Sakic announced Monday he recently agreed to a one-year extension with the former American Hockey League coach.
”It’s a cool story that we went from last to the playoffs, but we’re trying to win a Cup,” said the 22-year-old MacKinnon Aaron Colvin Jersey , who had 39 goals and 58 assists in the regular season. ”We showed a lot of fight this season. … Hopefully we can use some of that next season.”
Things to know about a season in which the Avalanche returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2014:
The Avalanche returned the aura back to the Pepsi Center. They won 28 games at home in the regular season, which tied the franchise record held by the 2000-01 squad that captured the Stanley Cup crown.
”To see the way this Colorado crowd and the city responded to us was great,” defenseman Erik Johnson said.
The future is certainly bright with a total of 11 rookies dressing this season. Even more, nine players got their first taste of the postseason.
”It was great to get into the playoffs just to feel the different level, where you’ve got to go emotionally and intensity goes up,” Sakic said. ”We can’t take it for granted.”
MAC’S OFFENSIVE ATTACK
MacKinnon had a season worthy of consideration for the Hart Trophy as league MVP. He led the league in home scoring this season with 67 points (27 goals, 40 assists). That’s tied with Sakic (2000-01) for most in Avalanche history.
In addition, MacKinnon’s 284 shots were also the most by an Avalanche player since Sakic (332, `00-01).
He was frequently paired with captain Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, giving them one of the league’s most potent lines.
”If you want to bring someone to their first hockey game, you want to bring them to watch Nathan MacKinnon,” Sakic said.
Colorado had a 10-game winning streak that began with an overtime win over Toronto on Dec. 29 and ended Jan. 23 with a loss at Montreal. It was the second-longest streak in team history.
”Great group, fun to coach Josh Reynolds Jersey ,” Bednar said. ”It was a good season, a fun season – especially for a lot of our guys who went through probably their worst season, myself included, last year to respond and have a season like this.”
Colorado dealt with its fair share of injuries, including the loss of starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov and Johnson to knee injuries before the playoffs. In the postseason, backup Jonathan Bernier went down. The Avs had to rely on third-stringer Andrew Hammond, who was acquired as part of the three-team trade in November that sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa.
”I know we’ll come back stronger,” Landeskog said. ”I’m proud of this team.”
New Jersey’s Taylor Hall and the hometown Vegas Golden Knights went home with major honors from the NHL Awards.
Hall won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player in the hockey world’s annual postseason awards show.
The high-scoring Devils forward beat out fellow first-time Hart finalists Nathan MacKinnon of Colorado and Anze Kopitar of Los Angeles. Hall got 72 first-place votes and 1,264 total points in the media voting to edge MacKinnon, who got 60 first-place votes and 1,194 points. Hall became the first New Jersey player to win the NHL’s biggest individual honor after he finished sixth in the league with 93 points.
The Golden Knights also took home four awards from the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino after their remarkable inaugural season. Coach Gerard Gallant won the Jack Adams Award, and George McPhee was named the NHL’s general manager of the year in recognition of the Golden Knights’ immediate growth into champions of the Pacific Division and the Western Conference. High-scoring Knights forward William Karlsson won the Lady Byng Trophy for the player best combining sportsmanship and ability. Defenseman Deryk Engelland also won the Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award for his actions during his team’s breakthrough season in the wake of the shooting massacre on the Las Vegas Strip shortly before their first game.
Tampa Bay’s Victor Hedman won his first Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman, while New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal won the Calder Trophy in a landslide as the league’s top rookie. Nashville’s Pekka Rinne won his first Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie Jim Kelly Jersey , while Kopitar won his second Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward.
NEW YORK (AP) – Phil Mickelson has apologized four days after intentionally violating golf rules by hitting a moving ball on the green at the U.S. Open, saying his frustration got the best of him.
The apology came in a statement released by his representatives.
”I know this should’ve come sooner, but it’s taken me a few days to calm down,” Mickelson said. ”My anger and frustration got the best of me last weekend. I’m embarrassed and disappointed by my actions. It was clearly not my finest moment and I’m sorry.”
Mickelson was struggling in the third round when he reached the 13th green. His bogey putt from above the hole ran by the cup and was headed down a slope when he trotted over and swatted it back toward the hole with the ball still in motion. He was assessed a two-stroke penalty, scored a 10 on the hole and wound up shooting 81.
KAZAN, Russia (AP) – Diego Costa scored on a deflection to lead Spain to a 1-0 win over Iran at the World Cup.
Costa broke the deadlock in the 54th minute after being set up by Andres Iniesta. The powerful striker turned in the area and took a shot but the ball deflected off Ramin Rezeian before bouncing back onto Costa’s knee and into the net.
Costa, who also scored two goals in the opening match, has three goals at this year’s World Cup, trailing Cristiano Ronaldo by one. He also has nine goals in his last nine starts for Spain.
Both Spain and Portugal have four points in Group B following their 3-3 draw and subsequent 1-0 victories. Iran has three points in the group but Morocco has been eliminated.
ROSTOV-ON-DON, Russia (AP) – Luis Suarez put both Uruguay and host Russia into the second round of the World Cup while eliminating Saudi Arabia and Egypt at the same time.
Suarez scored the winning goal in his 100th international appearance for Uruguay, knocking in a corner kick from Carlos Sanchez in the 23rd minute to give the two-time champions a 1-0 victory over the Saudis on Wednesday.
Uruguay and Russia both have six points from their opening two matches, putting them into the round of 16. They will face each other on Monday in Samara with first place in Group A on the line.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The Charlotte Hornets have agreed to trade eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard to the Brooklyn Nets for center Timofey Mozgov and two second-round draft picks Kasen Williams Jersey , a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.
The Hornets will get the Nets’ second-round pick Thursday night (45th overall) and a second-round pick in 2021, the person said. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the teams have not announced the trade and the league cannot approve the deal until the trade moratorium ends on July 6.
The 32-year-old Howard played only one season for Charlotte, averaging 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. He is due to make $23.8 million this season, the final year of his contract.
Brooklyn will be Howard’s fourth team in as many seasons.
CHICAGO (AP) – The Chicago Cubs will have to get by without closer Brandon Morrow for a little while.
The Cubs placed the right-hander on the 10-day disabled list because of lower back tightness, leaving a short-handed bullpen without its most important piece.
Morrow – signed by Chicago to a $21 million, two-year contract in December after helping the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Cubs in the NLCS – has 16 saves in 17 chances. He hurt his back taking his pants off at home early Monday morning, after the team returned from St. Louis. The Cubs put him on the DL before their game against the Dodgers and announced right-hander Justin Hancock will remain with the club after being called up from Triple-A Iowa as the 26th man for Tuesday’s day-night doubleheader.
NEW YORK (AP) – Billy Connors, a three-time New York Yankees pitching c Jacob Evans Jersey ,