Colorado Avalanche: Best first line in NHL
The MGM line has been very productive this season. | (Photo: denverpost.com)

Colorado Avalanche: Best first line in NHL

Nate Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen have combined for 175 points between them this season.

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William Grigsby

When your first line can contribute as the Av's first line has, you have a shot at being a pretty darned good team.

Nate Mackinnon

With 25 goals, 38 assists this season 'Mac' has been an offensive force in the trio only trailing Rantanen by two points. His 25 goals match his other linemate Landeskog and it's simple to see how this line dominates.

In his five-plus seasons with the Av's Mackinnon has averaged 23 goals, 38 assists making him the focus of the opposing team's defense night in and night out.

Except... with the three offensive talents combined on one line how does any team stop them?

So far they haven't.

It's like a three-headed monster attacking your net!

Now, recently the Av's had dropped six straight games prompting head coach Jared Bednar to remove the 'G' (Landeskog) from the potent line and replace him with Matt Nieto.

The Av's got through the losing streak when they torpedoed the New York Rangers 6-1 with the MGM line accumulating eight points in the lopsided victory.

The three-headed monster is back.

Gabriel Landeskog

Even though Landeskog was moved from the first line, it appears that moving him back to the first line was a success. So far this season he has tallied 25 goals, 22 assists in 42 games. 

He is the captain of the team and knows if they are in a funk, something needs to happen. He recently told NHL.com

"It's very rare that a line stays together for 82 games, but I kinda figured you guys would come in and get excited over this, but for us, it's just a part of the business. For me, it doesn't really matter who I'm playing with. I'm just excited to get back out and get back on the winning side."

If the Av's can keep the MGM line together they WILL succeed and having a captain like Gabriel Landeskog is another example of why that will happen. 

Mikko Rantanen

This young player (22) has a bright future with the Avalanche and this season he is excelling most expectations by being a scoring machine. 

After being extremely successful last season with 84 points including 29 goals, he is doing even better this season with 19 goals, 46 assists in 42 games. That's a 1.55 points per game pace and would put him with 127 points if he keeps up his current pace of scoring.

He is just four points behind scoring phenom Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning and still has 40 games left to catch him.

The 10th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft has really turned out to be a great choice by the Avalanche. 

If he continues with his stellar play his next contract may very well display that he has arrived as an NHL star player worthy of a contract equating to that distinction.

It can be estimated that Rantanen will receive in the vicinity of $6.75-8.5 million after he exits his entry-level contract after this season. The Av's would be wise to lock him up before that and they have the cap space to do it with an estimated $32 million to spend.

For Rantanen that can only mean his dream of being in the NHL has not only been fulfilled but that he has made it to the 'star' level in the league.

Final thoughts

The Avalanche will attempt to stay on the winning side of the ledger but must now travel for the next five games playing some tough opponents including the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames, Montreal Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Ottawa Senators

If they can come back home for a five-game homestand collecting three or four victories from the trip, the Av's have a good shot at making the playoffs and with the MGM line intact they could even surprise quite a few people with their level of play.

I mean with a first line that they have... anything is possible.

Are you impressed with the success of the MGM line and how far do you feel the Colorado Avalanche will go this season? Let us know in the comments section below.

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