Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon spoke after his team lost its fourth straight game to the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday en route to a second-round playoff series exit.
"For sure, there's always next year," MacKinnon said when Mike Chambers of the Denver Post asked him about the team's championship window and the 2021-22 season (h/t Ryan O'Halloran of the Denver Post for the transcript):
"It's all we talk about, I feel like. I mean, I'm going on my ninth year next year and haven't won s--t, so I'm definitely motivated and it just sucks losing four in a row to a team and it felt like last year was our first real chance to win and this year, I felt we were the best team in the league. For whatever reason, we just couldn't get it together. I'm sure in training camp next year, we'll dissect things and figure it out and come back better."
The eight-year veteran has had a stellar career and just finished a season that has him in contention for a Hart Trophy, but he has yet to make it past the second round of the NHL playoffs.
Still, he's been nothing short of exceptional, scoring 30 goals in 56 games for an Avs team that won the President's Trophy this year.
Everything that could go wrong did for the Avs in the final four games of their series against the Golden Knights, however. Vegas outscored Colorado 17-8, including a 6-3 win on Thursday.
The Avs' top line, featuring MacKinnon at center, didn't get much going, especially in even-strength situations. The defense and goaltending faltered despite being excellent for much of the year.
This is still a very talented group from top to bottom, however. This year ended in disappointment, but the Avs should be right back in the middle of the playoff picture in 2022.