Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen voted into 2023 NHL All-Star game | Avalanche

Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen voted into 2023 NHL All-Star game | Avalanche

NHL fans have spoken: Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen are stars.

The Avalanche duo, added to the Central Division roster Thursday night, were two of the final 12 players selected for the 2023 game in online voting. They join defenseman Cale Makar as Colorado’s three representatives in the upcoming league showcase (February 3-4) to be held in Sunrise, Fla.

Rantanen, 26, is now a two-time NHL All-Star. MacKinnon, 27, has been a guest for six consecutive seasons.

“I never really think about that,” Rantanen told The Denver Gazette earlier this month when asked about the possibility of being chosen. “If I’m selected, obviously it’s a great honor to be one of those guys. There are a lot of good players there. But I never think of it as if I need to go there, or that I should be there.

“If I get the rest, that’s probably better.”

However, the distinction is always well deserved.

Rantanen has carried the Avalanche this season at a historic pace. He has surpassed Joe Sakic in two all-time statistical categories this season: most goals midway through a Colorado season (29) and fastest player to reach 30 goals in a season (43 games). . Rantanen appreciates the Sakic comparison with one major exception.

“I don’t know. He still has two (Stanley) Cups. That’s the difference,” Rantanen said. “It’s an honour, obviously. … But you can’t do it alone. help a lot.

Game analysis and insights from The Gazette’s sports staff, including columns from Woody Paige and Paul Klee.

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Rantanen had 25 assists and 31 goals this year entering a road game Friday night in Vancouver. MacKinnon has 13 goals and 36 assists.

No. 900 for EJ

Defenseman Erik Johnson, Denver’s longest-serving professional athlete, hit a career milestone this week: 900 games played in the NHL.

He did it in Wednesday’s road win over the Calgary Flames. Johnson, 34, is in his 13th season at Colorado with 697 of those 900 games as a member of the Avalanche.

“I was a young coach when I came to Denver and (Johnson) was one of the veterans,” coach Jared Bednar said. “I love a lot of things Erik does on and off the ice. He’s just a great person and a great teammate. He always comes to the rink with a smile on his face. »

Rantanen added: “He was always a good mentor. He really takes care of the young people. … Funny guy off the ice, but also, 900 games is a lot of games. I’m happy for him. He’s playing at a good level right now. »

What’s next: The Avalanche (23-17-3) take on the Vancouver Canucks on Friday at 8 p.m. (Altitude TV) at Rogers Arena.

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