Colorado Avalanche still need help despite Valeri Nichushkin returning very soon

Vegas Golden Knights v Colorado Avalanche
Vegas Golden Knights v Colorado Avalanche / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

I would expect that Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin will return to game action sometime this week after spending a while in the NHL player assistance program. Nichushkin would help with several different things for the team, including time on attack and special teams. Lately, it has felt like the Avalanche have been lacking some juice (no pun intended regarding the team’s backup Justus Annunen).

On Saturday, Colorado lost in a blowout, 5-1 to the Nashville Predators. The only plus side was the one goal they scored, and it was none other than Nathan MacKinnon recording the score. It’s too bad that the game wasn’t in Denver—MacKinnon’s home-point streak would have continued. We’ll just have to wait for Monday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks, a team that they destroyed last week 5-0.

If my math is right, the Avalanche are currently 11-9-2 without Nichushkin in the lineup this season. For a team fighting to stay in the race for the 2023-24 playoffs, I want them to do a little bit better. A high blood pressure is not something I want to have when it comes to sports. We need some consistency in winning. This team has shown at times that they are a great group that is capable of winning; other times, they just don’t quite show up.

When Nichushkin returns to the Colorado Avalanche, his presence should take a lot of pressure off of the team’s defense. Their defense has struggled mightly at times, leaving Alexandar Georgiev out to dry. When Nichushkin returns, I fully expect there to be more offensive opportunities and more shots on goal. I’ve mentioned several times in my home that we need to create more opportunities instead of trying to create shot opportunities that look cool.

Having the best players on the ice during power plays and penalty kills is crucial. I’m excited to see Nichushkin back very soon.