Nathan MacKinnon does not like losing and, the guy is pissed. It happens during an 82-game season no doubt, but cameras do not always catch how frustrated a player can be. And how reacts when his own head coach asks him to calm down.
Things boiled over last night as the Colorado Avalanche fell to the Flames 5-3, despite the Avs outshooting Calgary 35-16. Late in the loss after the Flames' empty net goal sealed the win, MacKinnon came back to the bench and vented his frustrations. And then, it got ugly... Cameras caught MacKinnon and coach Jared Bednar in a heated exchange on the bench.
MacKinnon threw a Gatorade bottle in disgust and after exchanging loaded words with Bednar: he was so fired up captain Gabriel Landeskog grabbed him, which caused MacKinnon to fall backwards on the bench. The Avalanche captain helped him back up onto the bench.
Many believe, including the commentators, that the number 29 had mouthed something to Bednar the effect of: “Just do your job.”
The Avalanche had been doing so well since the start of the season. According to the research of TSN's Frank Seravelli, Colorado "began the season by bolting to the top of the standings. They held the top spot in the Western Conference (17-7-5) into Dec. 7."
This could explain why MacKinnon is so frustrated with his team's performance. They need to get back on track before it's too late. He and star teammate Mikko Rantanen have done most of the work: just in last night's loss, Rantanen netted a goal and assist, while MacKinnon scored the Avs’ first goal.
"There have been just three games in the 44 played that the Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen line has not tallied at least one goal - and only one of those games has been during this 15-game slide," recalls Seravelli in his TSN article.
Let's hope the tension can drop and the Avalanche can focus on winning and play like one of the top teams in the NHL.