The All-Star festivities were a much needed distraction for Nathan MacKinnon.
The Colorado Avalanche forward has watched his club spin out of control, crashing to the bottom of the league standings and leaving him and his teammates in shock.
"It sucks. I've never been in a position like this in my life," MacKinnon said, according to Puck Daddy's Greg Wyshynski.
"We didn't expect this. We thought we'd be in the mix. I know we wouldn't have won the division (this season), but I thought we'd have a chance to make the playoffs. Obviously, that's not the case. So we're just trying to get better, get ready for next season."
The club sits 30th in the league - 10 points below the next-closest team, the Arizona Coyotes.
It's been a complete system failure, too. The Avalanche are last in the league in both goals for and against per game with 2.02 and 3.37 marks, respectively.
"We've been in games, but we can't score," MacKinnon said. "We score two a game, and we give up the most goals in the league, so that's not a good combo. We're pretty fragile. I don't want to beat up the team too much. We're in a lot of games, but then we press the panic button too easily. Like in San Jose, when Marleau scored four against us in one period, in like eight minutes. That was a 1-1 game."
What's made the losing so unbearable, MacKinnon admits, is the amount of optimism that surrounded the team following the 2013-14 season, which saw the Avalanche capture the Central Division with 52 wins and 112 points.
"We thought we were going to be a Cup team in the next five years," he said. "Looking back on it, I took it for granted how hard it is to win. I came in, won 50 games. I thought I was going to win every year."
With this season all but over for the Avalanche, eyes will be fixated on next year. It's looking more and more like the club will tear it down, and the focus will soon be shifting to the likes of Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier at June's draft.
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