The Colorado Avalanche will be without their suspended captain Gabriel Landeskog and Valeri Nichushkin on Saturday against the Blues, after already being without Nathan MacKinnon, but injuries could see more spots open
Thursday afternoon saw the news the Avs were dreading. They were likely going to play tomorrow’s game against the St. Louis Blues without both Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog.
Jared Bednar is back at least, so it’s not all bad, I suppose.
Landeskog was given two games for boarding against Chicago Blackhawks forward Kirby Dach, occuring at the tail end of the third period. In the play, Landeskog passed the Blackhawks’ blue line, to where Dach was on one knee passing the puck, and sent him into the boards. At the time, Landeskog was given a two-minute minor, while Dach finished the game unhurt.
Suspensions for players who aren’t exactly repeat offenders are tricky.
In a case of Nazem Kadri, where there’s — unfortunately — precedence to call him a repeat offender, eight games was essentially the right call.
With Landeskog, his last suspension before yesterday comes four years ago, with his four-game sit for cross-checking against the Calgary Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk. Two other suspensions linger before that, so to call Landeskog a “repeat offender” is a stretch, considering the proximity.
However, and this is a huge however, there needs to be precedence.
There’s no question Dach was in a vulnerable position, and considering he was finishing his pass on his knee when Landeskog hit him, and the force, two games is a fair amount.
The Avs on Saturday
Where does this leave the Avs for Saturday?
For starters, as established, no MacKinnon and Landeskog. That’s a drawback.
Adding to the hurt is the absence of Valeri Nichushkin with an upper-body injury, of which the timeframe has yet to be established. Peter Baugh of The Athletic tweeted the likely top three lines, with a notable uncertainty for the fourth line:
Notable is the probable promotion of Logan O’Connor to the third line, with Sampo Ranta — rightfully — given a shot on the second line.
While Jayson Megna, who got called up in time for Wednesday’s game, is likely to stay on the wing of the fourth line, Mikhail Maltsev could make his Avs debut on the wing and Shane Bowers could be recalled to round out the line.
On the other hand, Baugh also noted Andre Burakovsky and Darren Helm would be sitting out today’s practice, leaving two notable holes in the middle two lines. In either this case, or even if they play, it’s still a good time to take a look at Martin Kaut to be added somewhere. In the case the Avs see Burakovsky and Helm out, a definitely Swiss cheese team, the Avs have room to experiment with Kaut on the wing of perhaps Bowers and Maltsev.
Or they could sign Burakovsky’s father who made a comeback in the Swedish third division at 54.
Either way, the Avs will be missing a lot against the Blues. While it’s all not for naught — the Avs’ younger players were expected to take a larger role this year — it’s a predicament the Avs are going to have to get used to, judging by MacKinnon likely being out for a number of more games, for a while.