The Colorado Avalanche’s experiment with Nathan MacKinnon as a second-line winger is dead already. He was bumped up to the second unit when Alex Tanguay went down with an injury recently, but head coach Patrick Roy apparently didn’t like MacKinnon on the wing.
Adrian Dater of the Denver Post gave a quick breakdown of why he thought moving the youngster back to the middle on the third line was the right call:
Roy said it became clear to him that MacKinnon needs to be at center to better utilize his speed and passing ability. I thought he did some good things as a winger, but the fact is he had no points and no shots in a 6-4 game last night – though his line was even in a 6-4 game too, plus-minus wise.
That puts MacKinnon back on the third line in between John Mitchell and Max Talbot, with Jamie McGinn sliding to the right side to play with Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny.
Roy hasn’t been shy about trying new things with his lines, but he hasn’t been afraid to admit when something isn’t working either. It’s probably better to pull MacKinnon out of a situation where he wasn’t successful sooner rather than later, lest his head start to get the better of him.
He’s been very effective as a third-line option, and he creates some tough matchups for the opposition in a serious “pick your poison” type scenario.