Colorado Avalanche Defenseman Erik Johnson’s Injury is the Final Straw

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson went down with a broken fibula in the game against the Dallas Stars. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back folks.

In case you missed, the Colorado Avalanche will now be missing their de facto No. 1 defenseman for 6-8 weeks because of a broken leg.

It happened on a blocked shot from the point. I immediately knew something was wrong by the way he was unable to shake it off, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

Talk about an absolute bust of a season folks. I planned on writing something today that would find that small glimmer of hope shimmering in some obscure area of the locker room.

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But, with the news of EJ’s broken leg, I don’t really have anything positive to say. I’m pretty resigned to the fact that this season is over — that EJ’s injury is the final straw, the straw that snapped the camel’s back in two.

To make things even worse, that is now the sixth season — since he joined the Avs — that he has not played the year through due to injury. That’s every season but one (not including the lockout shortened season.) And, that year he joined the Avs at the end of the season because of the trade with the St. Louis Blues.

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Is that injury prone? He’s never played a full 82 game season. So, I’m not sure if you can even call that injury prone. Ok, but anyway, we’re getting sidetracked.

Now, the question is: who is going to step up for the Avalanche on defense? Can anybody? Probably not…

The Avs Now Have a Serious Lack of Defensive Depth

The important thing here is now the Avs will have to try and skate by with the following defensemen:

  • Tyson Barrie
  • Francois Beauchemin
  • Nikita Zadorov
  • Patrick Wiercioch
  • Eric Gelinas
  • Fedor Tyutin

And I suppose they’ll make a call-up as well. And, you have to think that it would be Chris Bigras. At the time of writing this, no decision had been made in that regard.

Regardless of who ends up getting the call-up, it’s obvious that the group above features only one top four defenseman. That is Tyson Barrie. The rest are a mix of washed up veterans (Beauch and Tyutin), untapped potential (Zadorov), and inconsistent yet sometimes good defensemen (Wiercioch and Gelinas).

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And, Tyson Barrie only fits in the role of top four because of his offensive potential. He is by no means defensively sound. In other words, the Colorado Avalanche took an irreparable blow last night with EJ’s injury.

I’m not saying that EJ is that amazing either, he was just clearly the best Avalanche defenseman this season. He is the only defenseman on the roster right now who has a positive Corsi-for percentage with 51.3 percent on the season. He is also the only defenseman on the roster with at least an even turnover ratio.

In other words, the Avs just lost a big chunk of their ability to play defense against teams…

So, be prepared for the free-fall.


Sorry to be so defeated folks, but I figured I’d be honest with the writing today. Like I said, I wanted to find the positives, but EJ’s injury stifled all positivity like a candle snuffed.

Perhaps one positive thing to take from this is that in all likelihood Chris Bigras should get recalled, and have a chance to prove he belongs with the big club.

The San Antonio Rampage play a game today at 2:00 pm MST, so expect a recall shortly after the conclusion of that game. That would be my guess at least, although I suppose they could announce something sooner.

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Hopefully the Avs can find a way to move through this injury, but I don’t have much faith. And do I honestly have a reason for faith in this club? Do any of us?

So yeah, EJ’s injury is the straw that broke the camel’s back, but there were lots of potential back breakers being shoveled on long before EJ’s back-breaking straw. I just don’t think the Avs will be able to recover from this one.

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