Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen is crazy. Watch out Dallas, we don’t drive a Moose crazy.

You see, if you feed a moose in the wild, it becomes unpleasant. Then they want more. The last two times Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored twice in a playoff game, he scored twice more the very next tilt.

“I think you have to raise your game after each round. And like I said before, it only gets harder on the team, so it also gets harder on the individuals,” Rantanen said ahead of the Avs’ second-round Stanley Cup playoff series with the Dallas Stars, which begins Tuesday night at American Airlines. Center.

“I think we will face a tougher team in the next round. And I think every individual, including myself, needs to take the next step because that’s what we need to do. Because we want to get better and better to win the Cup. But yes, individually, you also have to be well prepared.

The Moose enter the Metroplex after a two-goal Game 5 in Winnipeg. Those were his only two scores of the first round and his first multi-goal playoff game since Game 4 of that ill-fated Seattle series in April 2023.

Here’s the fun part: Rantanen also scored twice in Game 3 against the Kraken. His back-to-back two-goal efforts against Calgary in 2019, in Games 4 and 5, helped eliminate the Flames in a first-round upset. When the Moose collects, it is with interest.

“Experience obviously helps,” Rantanen said. “And I think we were able to step it up a notch when the playoffs started. And I think we got better after every game (of the Jets series).

The Avs’ top line – Moose at right wing, Nathan MacKinnon at center and Valeri Nichushkin at left wing – dominated Winnipeg in spurts, but those chunks proved sporadic. Colorado’s third-line combination of Kiviranta-Colton-Wood (5.14 goals) and second-line combination of Parise-Mittlestadt-Lehkonen (5.03 goals), according to Moneypuck.com, actually average more goals per 60 minutes against the Jets than the Avs’ top line (4.73).

“Obviously when we play together there are three good players (in that first line),” Rantanen said. “When everyone leaves, we try to help each other and move the puck. I don’t know if (the defenders) forget about me, but yes, it’s good if (Nichushkin) is good.

These are not problems by the way. These are warnings. For Dallas. The Avs took on the best defense and best goaltending in the West like a troop of spider monkeys. And they did it with Rantanen, who averaged 1.3 points per career playoff game, sometimes struggling to get out of third gear.

In fact, the Big Finn entered Game 5 in one of those George Clinton funks, having gone four games with six points but no goals. It was Rantanen’s longest streak without finding the back of the net in the playoffs since the 2002 Stanley Cup Final (six games, zero goals, 10 assists). And it was the first time he went four games without a goal in a first-round series since Nashville two years ago (four games, zero goals, five assists).

The nadir came in the second period of the Avs’ series-clinching series, when the Moose camped to the left of goaltender Connor Hellebuyck and received a dime from Cale Makar near the blue line, a gift that lit the lamp 98 times on 100. Only no. 96 seemed to have a case of the yips, clumsily dribbling the puck onto his stick.

Which, of course, was the last thing Stick saw before heading to the big Bauer factory in the sky. The 6-foot-4 wingman walked away from the scene and quickly snapped the thing in half like it was a piece of kindling.

“I don’t count points (from broken sticks),” Rantanen said. “Actually, this year I didn’t do it (much) – maybe it was the third time? Maybe a little more (in the past).

Mikko Rantanen (96) of the Colorado Avalanche handles as Jake Oettinger (29) of the Dallas Stars tends the net during the third period at Ball Arena in Denver, Tuesday, February 27, 2024. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/ The Denver Post)

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