When the Colorado Avalanche take on the St. Louis Blues tonight, rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon won’t be in his usual N0. 3 center spot. Head coach Patrick Roy is going to try him as a right wing on the second unit for the second time in a week. That seemed to be the indication following Colorado’s practice this morning, according to Adrian Dater of the Denver Post:
For Thursday night’s game against the St. Louis Blues, rookie Nathan MacKinnon will be back at right wing for the Avalanche. That was the news to come out of the morning skate at the Scottrade Center…
The move is somewhat surprising, as Roy didn’t like MacKinnon on the wing when he tried this same maneuver last week. MacKinnon has been back on his usual third line since then, but he’ll be on the second line alongside Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny tonight.
MacKinnon’s keystone trait is his speed. He’s among the fastest players in the NHL already and bottom-six forarwards have had a whale of a time trying to slow him down as he cuts through the middle of the ice or peels out of corners with the puck. Roy didn’t feel that the talented forward was able to use his quickness and vision as well on the wing, so he killed the experiment pretty quickly.
Something clearly changes the mind of the coach, however. MacKinnon will be going up against some top-end competition in the St. Louis Blues tonight, and it’ll be fun to see how he responds to this challenge.