Avs’ Cale Makar celebrates 21st birthday with increased physicality: “He’s got a little edge to his game”

Cale Makar turned 21 on Wednesday and the Avalanche defenseman celebrated with a brief brawl inside the Pepsi Center.

Go ahead and put the bouncer on notice. Makar isn’t afraid to fight.

Early in the third period of Colorado’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Panthers, Avs goalie Phillip Grubauer covered a puck while Florida winger Dryden Hunt continued to poke away at it. Makar took exception and two-hand shoved Hunt across the crease. When Hunt returned the favor by knocking Makar to the ice, his Avalanche teammates responded quickly, with forward Nazem Kadri assessed a 5-minute penalty for fighting.


— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) October 31, 2019

Physicality was not isolated to this single moment on Wednesday night. In the context of player development, though, Makar’s willingness to get tough is worth a second look.

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“He’s got a little edge to his game,” coach Jared Bednar said. “He’s sturdy on his skates. We’ve seen it in his college game and we’ve seen it at times here where he’ll finish checks. When you do that, you know you’re going to get some pushback from guys.”

Makar has now appeared in 22 career NHL games (12 regular season) since making his rookie debut last playoffs. Bednar had previously told reporters that Makar’s adjustment to the aggressive nature of the NHL would be among his biggest initial learning curves, or as Makar put it simply, “You’ve just got to be prepared to be hit at all times.”

Makar was on the ice for 20:30 against the Panthers, third among Avs defensemen, and showcased the effortless speed and technical mastery in transition which made him the team’s fourth overall draft pick in 2017. Makar didn’t record a point but showcased growth nonetheless.

The lesson for opponents is don’t be fooled by those rosy cheeks. Makar is developing grown-man physicality.

“Whatever situation they need me to play, I’ll be ready for it,” Makar said. “Obviously, I have to learn a lot and I’m just kind of out there trying to play my game. … We’ve got young energy, but at the same time, we’ve got Erik Johnson and Ian Cole; lots of guys to lean on for experience.”

The Avalanche (8-2-2) next hosts the Stars (5-8-1) on Friday night at the Pepsi Center.

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Source:: The Denver Post – Sports


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