Colorado Avalanche Must Come Together without MacKinnon

EDMONTON, AB - MARCH 25: David Desharnais
EDMONTON, AB - MARCH 25: David Desharnais /

The Colorado Avalanche are set to play their second game of the road trip tonight in Edmonton against the Oilers.

The Colorado Avalanche have embarked on their Canadian tour. At the time of writing, they’re one point out of a playoff spot with one game in hand over the Minnesota Wild. Edmonton is #25 in the NHL.

The Avalanche are coming off a 4-3 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks (#37 in the NHL) preceded by two losses just before the All Star Break. That, of course, was preceded by their 10-game winning streak.

The Oilers haven’t played since January 25, a full week ago. They beat the Calgary Flames in the shootout.

Colorado and Edmonton have played a lot in the last 22 years. The Avalanche have a distinct advantage, having gone 69-47-4-6(ties) all time. However, the Oilers took all three games last year.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: February 1 , 7 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), SNW (Oilers feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Playing without MacKinnon

More from Mile High Sticking

Colorado Avalanche star center Nathan MacKinnon is in Colorado. Which is a pity because the rest of the team is Canada — specifically Edmonton to play the Oilers. (But you already knew that.)

By now you know MacKinnon suffered a shoulder injury in the second period of the Canucks game. He left the game and didn’t return. He’s listed as day-to-day, but he definitely won’t be playing in Edmonton. I’m going to hazard a guess and say he won’t play in Winnipeg either.

The Avs have been riding his coattails through this season. Now, conventional wisdom states you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket. Unfortunately, Colorado doesn’t have any other baskets — they don’t even have that many eggs. That’s what happens when you’re a rebuilding team with a lot of youth.

What’s going to have to happen is all the Avalanche players are going to have to up their game. The remaining forwards are going to have to create chances and score goals even without MacKinnon’s speed and shot. The defense is going to have to tighten up and prevent games becoming a scoring race. And the goalie — for now still Jonathan Bernier — is going to have to keep saving the team’s bacon.

Let’s just hope MacKinnon joins the team after this roadie because that’s not a sustainable model. It’s a bandaid.

Alberta Connection

One of the players who may have to be just a little bit better — like, it would be great if he had his breakout now — is 19-year-old rookie Tyson Jost. He’s also the only player on the team who is from the province of Alberta.

In fact, the Oilers were his favorite team team when he was growing up. In a pre-game presser, Jost talked about how fun it was as a Canadian kid to play in the historic hockey towns of Montreal and Toronto. However, he added, “We always watch hockey in Canada, and those two teams are always on. I remember when I was a little kid I’d always be pissed off because they were always playing when my Oilers should have been on.”

Well, now that they’re back in home territory for Tyson Jost, hopefully we’ll see the return of Grandpa Jost. Hopefully he’ll be shedding lots of tears as he watches his grandson score some beautiful goals.

Next: Game Management During the Roadie

The Edmonton Oilers are a Western Conference foe, and the Avs need to take two points against them. After tonight’s game, the Colorado Avalanche head to Winnipeg to face the Centreal Division rival Jets.