The transformation from prospect phenom to NHL impact player for Cale Makar was over in the blink of an eye but the journey was two years in the making. The timeline is well-known at this point of how Makar jumped straight from winning the Hobey Baker to the NCAA championship game to the Colorado Avalanche and scoring his first goal in storybook fashion. Before moving on to the second round chapter here is how his three game debut against the Calgary Flames in round one of the playoffs went down.
Game 3 – 14:19 TOI (12:00 ES), 1 goal, +1, 52.94 CF%
In Makar’s NHL debut the goal is the big moment which will live on in Colorado Avalanche history. In the clip seen below Makar calls for the drop pass from Nathan MacKinnon, fends off a Calgary Flame and pushes the puck past goaltender Mike Smith five-hole in one motion. A highly anticipated moment was even better than imagined and ended up being the game winning goal.
What didn’t make the highlight reels is how Makar earned trust from the coaching staff right away playing eight shifts and 5:27 in the first period alone. Coach Bednar praised a big shot block Makar made in the defensive zone reminding everyone that he makes an impact at both ends of the ice. As the game wore on Makar clearly became more comfortable and the goal no doubt sparked some confidence.
Hey NHL, meet Cale Makar.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) April 16, 2019
Game 4 – 20:06 TOI (19:22 ES), +1, 70.73% CF
The closest contested game in Makar’s portion of the Calgary series saw him increase his ice time including five shifts and just over three minutes in overtime. In that extra frame Makar had some of his best moments of this game, one of which was a drive to the net and a pass back to Gabe Landeskog in the slot and the sequence shown below where he circled the offensive zone with MacKinnon for a shift after laying a big hit to keep possession of the puck.
While Makar did not score a point in this game it was his best statistical showing with an eye popping +29/-12 Corsi and +17/-3 in scoring chances. A few early bobbles were clearly erased when Makar turned up the aggression and pace as he helped the Avalanche grab this crucial game in overtime. When he isn’t rushing the puck as much Makar can rely on hard, crisp and accurate stretch passes which he used to spring Avalanche players on multiple breakaways and zone entires.
Game 5 – 19.26 TOI (17:01 ES), 1 assist, +2, 52.0 CF%
In his first game away from the Pepsi Center and in his hometown Makar again was relied on to set the tone in this game as he led the entire team in time on ice with just over seven minutes in the first period. He was again rewarded on the scoresheet as well as Makar grabbed the primary assist on a Mikko Rantanen goal as seen below. Makar pinches up in the offensive zone and fires a shot which Rantenen deposits the rebound off of Smith’s backside. The goal would eventually stand as the game winner and is Makar’s second contribution on a playoff game winning goal. In addition to the scoring Makar also added five takeaways and three blocked shots to the scoresheet.
After the three game debut Makar ended up third on the team with a total 61.45 CF% and ninth in even strength time on ice per game at 14:49. He also had two shots on goal and eight shot attempts which will only increase as he gets more comfortable and familiar with the offense. Great for Makar and the Avalanche he can do just that in the second round of the playoffs.
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) April 20, 2019