Friendly rivalry: ‘I think we can beat them too,’ MacKinnon ready for Stanley Cup playoffs

Colorado Avalanche

DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will return to the lineup after missing four of the last five games of the season due to a lower-body injury.

“It was nothing major. I just wanted to be healthy come game one. So, got some rest, got some good treatment, and I’m feeling good,” MacKinnon said in a news conference on Sunday.

Both MacKinnon and captain Gabriel Landeskog acknowledge that the Avalanche are as familiar with the St. Louis Blues as the Blues are with them.

“We got lots of video to watch, we got lots of film to break down and things that we can take advantage that happened during the regular season,” Landeskog said. “But at the same time we also scout other teams against these guys to see what success other teams had against them … definitely we know them well, they know us well as well, so it should be a fun series.”

The Avalanche went 5-3-0 against the Blues in the regular season but aren’t sitting back on the their skates before facing the 2019 Stanley Cup Champions. And Blues leading scorer David Perron’s possible absence due to COVID isn’t easing the team’s intensity.

“We’re just trying to play our best we possibly can on both sides of the puck. And whoever has the puck for them, we’re going to track hard and play D very hard,” MacKinnon said. “Whether that’s Perron or somebody else, we’re going to give respect to everybody on their team. We’re not going to ease up because he’s out.”

Blues captain and former Avalanche player Ryan O’Reilly said he knows they’re facing a tough team with a lot of talent.

“We know that they have a lot of talent over there. They work hard, but for us, it’s an exciting challenge. We’re going to have some fun and we’re going to beat them,” O’Reilly told NHL.com.

O’Reilly saying his team is going to beat the Avalanche has stirred up some drama on social media. But it’s the playoffs and players know the level of intensity increases immensely. MacKinnon isn’t letting off-ice chirping affect his or the team’s focus in the post-season.

“(I) know him well, great guy. He’s the leader of that team, obviously he’s going to say whatever,” MacKinnon said. “I think we can beat them too, so it’s all good.”

Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs between the Avalanche and Blues begins Monday at 8 p.m. MDT at Ball Arena.

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