DROP THE MIKE

Early season woes not a worry for Avalanche and Nuggets

Oct 26, 2021, 6:09 AM
Drop the Mike...

• I know it’s a small detail, but looking at the way Nikola Jokic was dressed after the Spurs home opener last Friday tells me he’s moved to another level of maturity and professionalism. He looked sharp! Almost like he knows he’s the MVP; with that comes a certain look and style he needs to convey. He’s still the affable Joker, but with a little more gravitas. Count me as a fan!

• Slow start for Michael Porter Jr. Not a big deal. Long way to go. Human nature to feel the pressure of that contract even though it doesn’t kick in until next year. Once it clicks, look out.

• Not enthused about Aaron Gordon’s start. Was hoping he’d be more of the assertive player that he was with Orlando. The one that averaged between 15 to 17 points per game and not the one who’s deferring too much in Denver and only taking six shots per game.

• Interesting comment from The Fan’s Nuggets’ analyst George Karl when he was on “Schlereth and Evans.” Karl said the Nuggets’ starting five needs to have one more role player. He said Will Barton is such a confident player whether he starts or comes off the bench that perhaps a sixth-man role would be best for the Nuggets. I couldn’t agree more. As a child of the ’80s and ’90s, there was a certain mystique that surrounded the sixth man on contending teams. Players would embrace that role. Instant offense off the bench. A clear go to guy for the second unit or someone who could come in and pick up the slack for a struggling starter. Barton seems to fit the bill.

• The Bones Hyland runaway hype train sure did jump the tracks, huh? He was the talk of the preseason with fans and media alike gushing what a steal he was. Um, not so fast. Apparently folks around here forgot Michael Malone isn’t a big fan of playing rookies? The first two games equalled two DNP-CD for Bones. Getting the Bol Bol treatment.

… onto the Avs

• Self-promotion plug for my “Mile High Hockey” podcast. Check it out at denverfan.com. Had a good pros-and-cons conversation with Scott Masters about Gabe Landeskog’s suspension. My take. The captain has to be on the ice. He needs to lead and produce. That new monster contract isn’t just for him to be a swell leader. Someone needs to make sure other teams don’t take liberties with Avs’ players. Someone needs to step up and be the policeman. It shouldn’t be Landy. Four suspensions already? Too many. Especially for a league that gets less and less tolerant when you have a history. Can’t risk losing Gabe when the games matter most. Ask the Avs and Toronto what that means when Nazem Kadri gets banished.

• Slow start for the top line of Landeskog/MacKinnon/Rantanen. That big performance against the Lightning sure was a big exhale of relief. Tough road trip, but amazing that a win at the end of a 1-2 trip can leave everyone feeling optimistic moving forward.

• Still plenty to clean up from that road trip. Too much loose defensive play. Players not strong enough on the puck. Turnovers leading to odd man rushes. Sloppy. Just a reminder that this isn’t the same Avs team that stormed their way to the Presidents’ Trophy last year. Lot of new faces that need to gel. Plus the Avs have a target on their backs. They won’t sneak up on anyone. They’re going to get everyone’s A game.

• Need to start seeing some more production from the Avs’ bottom six forwards. Two line teams get beat in the playoffs. This will be something Joe Sakic will be paying close attention to. Again, no rush. Plenty of time to see what you have in house but come the trade deadline in February Joe could be on the hunt.

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