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Mikko Rantanen's Hot Streak Paying Dividends for Avalanche

It doesn't seem to matter how he gets them, but as long as Mikko Rantanen continues to rack up points at the rate he's doing it, the Avalanche will be in good shape in the Stanley Cup final.
Mikko Rantanen

DENVER - When you have Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog in the lineup, it's easy to fly under the radar. 

But Mikko Rantanen has done anything but go unnoticed as of late, currently sitting in the midst of a five-game point streak. Rantanen finds himself second in team post-season scoring with 19 points in 15 games. 

None of this is surprising if you're an Avs fan. The 25-year-old posted career-highs in goals (36) and assists (92) during the regular season while continuing to display his physical game. The Avs could throw him in any situation, with any player, and he'd be effective, and that's been a huge part of the team's success in the playoffs, too.

Colorado's first goal in Game 1 was created after Rantanen's shot trickled past Andrei Vasilevskiy before Gabriel Landeskog knocked in the loose disk. Rantanen then found Artturi Lehkonen waiting alone blocker side on Vasilevskiy for the 3-1 goal that, at the time, gave the Avalanche all the confidence they needed heading into the first break. The Avs needed overtime to win, but it was Rantanen's line again that finished it off thanks to Andre Burakovsky's goal.

That line, by the way, was dominant every time it hit the ice. It had a 5-on-5 Corsi-for percentage of 75 percent and was just as important as Nathan MacKinnon's line in contributing to the win. No matter who Rantanen plays for, something positive follows.

It doesn't matter if he isn't the one scoring goals, or if his points are coming with the man advantage. If he and his linemates keep thriving, he's doing his job. And it's not like he's completely useless at 5-on-5. Rantanen's 59.72 Corsi-for percentage is third among Avalanche forwards and fifth overall in the league, with the Avs holding the top nine spots. Colorado's dominance, possession-wise, has been widely discussed, and for good reason, and Rantanen is one of the best at it.

Bednar has done a bit of line juggling, but when Landeskog/MacKinnon/Rantanen played together, they combined for a 79.4 goals-for percentage, good for fifth in the playoffs. In just about any other trio Rantanen has been a part of, the number is well over 55 percent.

And, yes, he's more known for his power-play prowess, but it has come in handy for the Avs. His 8.52 points-per-60 with the man advantage is good for 11th and first among Avalanche forwards, with Cale Makar taking the team lead at 8.64. Rantanen's 5.33 first-assists-per-60 is first among all players still in the post-season, while Nikita Kucherov (10) is the only forward with more overall power-play points than Rantanen among players still in the hunt.

The Avalanche are off to a good start that, had it not been for a weak few minutes in the second, likely would have been a regulation win for a team that dominated most statistical categories on Wednesday. They clearly fed off the electric Ball Arena crowd that hadn't witnessed a playoff game since 2001, the year Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook were born.

Winning Game 2 and forcing Tampa's hand will be big for the Avalanche. As long as Rantanen continues to shine, they'll be in good shape.

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