AVALANCHE

Mikko Rantanen ready for Cup Final, respects back-to-back champs

Jun 14, 2022, 2:20 PM | Updated: Jun 15, 2022, 6:44 am
Mikko Rantanen...
Credit: Jake Shapiro, Denver Fan

DENVER—Mikko Rantanen was the leading points getter and scorer for the Colorado Avalanche this season, netting 36 goals and adding 56 assists.

Rantanen has 17 points in the Avs 14 Stanley Cup Playoff games thus far, helping to push the Avs to the Final. Like the regular season, Rantanen has had to fill in different roles in the postseason. Rantanen has been moved from the wing to center, replacing the injured Nazem Kadri.

“We’ve had some wounds in the playoffs like everybody, every team has, and now it’s been the time to heal those wounds and also get a chance to rest the body a little bit,” Rantanen said on Stanley Cup Final Media Day. “I think we have had really good practice days. High intensity and some physicality are the things you need to stay ready. Ready for Game 1.”

Colorado will have a total of nine days off when the puck drops on Wednesday. The Avalanche have gone 12-2 in the Playoffs while the Tampa Bay Lightning are 12-5, taken to seven games in Round 1 by Toronto.

“They’re very good defensively, and they’re a heavy team, so we have to be ready for that, be ready for some hits and give some hits and hold on to the puck and play to my strengths,” Rantanen said. “I think in every series it’s important, to start the series with a win is a big thing. But we’ve seen with Tampa they lost Game 1, and they’re still in the series, so it doesn’t mean a lot, but of course, you want to win Game 1 as much scam.”

Rantanen says the Avs playoff experience of the last few years is helping the team through this stretch. Rantanen has been in the league for seven years and has played all 57 of his postseason games in Burgundy.

“When you lose three years in a row in the same spot, you got to look in the mirror and have a chat with the guys who have been around and what can we do differently in the playoffs,” Rantanen said. “One thing I’ve noticed is a short memory; it like after a win or loss, we’ve been moving on quicker. It feels like previous years; maybe we were too excited for the wins and maybe pushing ourselves down after a loss.”

Another difference is Artturi Lehkonen, the Finish forward, moved from Montreal at the deadline. Last season he scored a clutch goal to help the Canadians, and he’s done the same for Colorado. Rantanen and Lehkonen go way back as countrymen.

“We had a little chat; I can’t remember exactly when, but they asked me what kind of guy he is, and I said he’s a bad guy,” Rantanen joked about what he told the Avs front office before the trade. “I told them right away that he’s a great guy and we need he could be he could help us a lot in the locker room and especially on the ice, and we’ve seen it in the playoffs.”

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