Colorado Avalanche Injury Update: Players Returning


For once, the news is good concerning a Colorado Avalanche injury update. The Avalanche are getting several players back for their three-game road trip.  Head coach Patrick Roy stated the following players are going on the trip:

  • Brad Stuart
  • Patrick Bordeleau
  • John Mitchell
  • Semyon Varlamov
  • Jesse Winchester

All five of those players have been out ranging from a few weeks to the whole season thus far.

Brad Stuart, Defense

Avalanche defenseman Brad Stuart has been out with a hamstring injury for five weeks. Initial reports had put him out for only two to three weeks, but the injury didn’t progress as expected.

Stuart cleared the “mountains” test, according to the Avalanche website. Funnily enough, the mountains test has nothing to do with playing in Colorado but rather is a timed skating drill. Forward Patrick Bordeleau outlines the process:

"“It’s just a conditioning drill [where] you have to stop at every blue line. Blue line, back. Red line, back. Far blue line, back. Goal line, back.”"

In fact, look below for video of Bordeleau practicing the drill.

In order to clear the mountains test, a skater has to complete four consecutive mountain skates in under a minute. Stuart, while understanding the importance, is not a fan:

"“It’s kind of like getting tortured, I guess. It’s not fun, but it’s a good indication of where you’re at physically and a little bit mentally too. It’s not easy to push yourself that hard, to be able to do it. I’m glad it’s over with for sure, and now I can look forward to just getting ready to play some games.”"

Because Stuart has been cleared to play already, he’s expected in the lineup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Patrick Bordeleau, Fourth-Line Forward

Patrick Bordeleau is one of those players who has yet to play for the Colorado Avalanche this season. He injured his back in mid-July, and underwent surgery to correct the injury. He has been participating in practices the last couple weeks. This week, he participated fully.

That participation includes the afore-mentioned mountain skating:

Coach Roy has yet to dictate when Bordeleau will play. He may suit up in Pittsburgh on Thursday, or he may have to wait. Either way, Bordeleau has a simple plan for his game:

"“Just play my role, which is hit everything that moves and play physical, intense, and hard on pucks.”"

Considering how Penguins defenseman Robert Bortuzzo hit aging veteran Jaromir Jagr late in the name of “protecting” Sid Crosby (because the cherry-picking winger is such a goon), having Bordie on hand to protect Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon would be a boon.

John Mitchell, Center

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Center John Mitchell was well on his way to having a career season after starting late due to lingering vision problems. For quite a stretch he was the Avalanche’s best faceoff center percentage wise, and for awhile he even earned a spot on the top six. However, he’s been out of the lineup twice now with leg injuries — first with the initial injury and second by aggravating the injury.

Naturally, Mitchell wants to get back to contributing to the team, but he’s leery of aggravating his injury by returning too soon again:

"“Obviously I’m looking to play as soon as I can, but at the same time you have to be a little cautious ‘cause last time I tried to come back as soon as I could and just re-aggravated the injury. Whether it’s Thursday or Saturday, we’ll see how it goes.”"

Mitchell makes no bones about what he wants the team to accomplish during the three-game road trip: three wins.

Semyon Varlamov, Goalie

If you had told Colorado Avalanche fans at the beginning of the season that starting goalie Semyon Varlamov would be out with injury for long stretches of the season, they would have hit instant panic mode. Varlamov was one of the best players for the Avalanche last year, and largely heralded as keeping them in many games they didn’t “deserve” to win.

Well, luckily for the Avs Nation, rookie goalie Calvin Pickard has come along and worked some of the same kind of magic. Nonetheless, Avalanche fans and the organization would like to have Varlamov healthy so they’d have their pick (no pun intended) of goalies.

There’s no timetable for Varlamov’s return beyond his going on the road trip. Coach Roy has already stated that Pickard is getting the start in Pittsburgh.

Jesse Winchester, Depth Forward

The Colorado Avalanche acquired forward Jesse Winchester in the off-season to provide depth on the fourth line. Unfortunately, Winchester suffered a concussion in the preseason. Since then, he’s been plagued with vision problems. He’s just fine at the Avalanche practice facility. However, he suffers from vertigo whenever he’s surrounded by crowds, lights or other visual stimulation. Obviously that’s not a good recipe for trying to play in professional ice hockey arenas.

Winchester has been understandably frustrated. However, though he’s going on the road trip, coach Roy has not stated when — or even if — he’ll play.

The Colorado Avalanche traveled to Pittsburgh after today’s practice. The game is set for Thursday at 5:00 pm MST.