The Colorado Avalanche have missed star center Nathan MacKinnon the past 11 games with an upper-body injury. The expectation was that he would miss four weeks with the injury. It just so happens that the injury happened about four weeks ago, so whoever projected the timeline of the injury was correct.
The team has activated MacKinnon off of injured reserve.
During MacKinnon’s absence, the Colorado Avalanche finished 6-5, which isn’t ideal as the league’s most recent Stanley Cup Champions. However, it could have been worse. The team went 4-2 during extra time in this time, including 1-2 in which the game went into a shootout.
It goes without saying that the Avalanche have missed MacKinnon’s sniper ability in the offensive zone. While the team has a Mikko Rantanen leading in goals and overall points (45 points on the season), MacKinnon has assisted on 26 of the team’s 100 goals on the season, the most on the team. Cale Makar is second with 25.
I think that it is safe to say that this team would have a much better record in the last 11 games had MacKinnon been a part of them. He’s just an irreplaceable player.
The Avalanche square off against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. The Leafs have a 22-8-6 record, and were on a 3-game win streak prior to Thursday’s 6-3 loss to the Arizona Coyotes. The Leafs are in second place in the Atlantic division, so they are not a team the Avalanche can fall asleep against.
This has just been a brutal season for the Avalanche in terms of injuries and it’s amazing that they’re able to keep afloat despite the amount of time some of these players have missed. Gabriel Landeskog has yet to suit up for a game. Valeri Nichushkin missed a month following foot surgery. Bo Byram and Darren Helm don’t appear to be close to returning.
The amount of injuries is a real concern in my eyes. However, they make it seem more likely the Avalanche will pull the trigger on a trade—perhaps for Bo Horvat.