Early in February, it seemed as though the Avs were going to have yet another season with injuries galore. Lately though, the news has been pretty positive regarding players healing up. Captain Gabe Landeskog is back in the lineup after missing 11 games with a concussion. Now that he’s played three games, I’m feeling more confident that he’s back for good, and not about to suffer a relapse. Matt Duchene will return to the lineup tonight after missing one game with a groin injury. Both Erik Johnson and Ryan Wilson skated this morning, (Johnson for the second time, Wilson for the first). Steve Downie is obviously still out with his season-ending ACL tear, but it seems as though everyone else is feeling a bit better (knock on wood). There’s still no timetable for Wilson or Johnson’s returns, but Coach Sacco said this morning that there is a possibility that each of them might join the team on the upcoming roadtrip.
By my calculations, it is going to take 56 points to make the Western Conference playoffs. The Avs are sitting in 14th place with 17 points. While they are only four points behind 8th place San Jose, it’s clear that they need to start winning at a consistent pace if they want to make the postseason. In these final 30 games, they’ll need a record of 19-10-1 to reach my estimated point value. A healthier team certainly makes that a more likely possibility. Landeskog and Duchene are going to need to put up points as two of the best forwards (Duchene needs to continue his fast pace, and Landeskog needs to start earning some of his own) if the team wants to give itself a chance to win. Paul Stastny and David Jones have been much maligned recently, and while I think they’ve been working hard, it’s true that they need to start putting the puck in the net for the team. If Johnson and/or Wilson can rejoin the team by the start of April, they would certainly provide a boost in the team’s capabilities, as the top two defensemen.
Of course, Ryan O’Reilly and his contract situation still provide a headache for everyone. I think most everyone would welcome him back, but at the same time, it seems like a pipe dream that we’ll ever see him in an Avs jersey again. I understand that management realizes that they need to “win” any trade that involves O’Reilly, and for that reason, they’re going to wait for the best trade. At the same time, this team needs help now. This team has said that they intend to get into the playoffs-but right now they’re sitting in 14th place. I’d personally like something to happen in the O’Reilly situation before the trade deadline at the beginning of April.