Although tied for first in the Western Division with the St. Louis Blues with 13 points, the Avalanche suffered a key loss in their 4-3 defeat against the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon did not appear on the overtime due to a lower body injury. He is listed as week-to-week.
The loss of MacKinnon is big, considering the fact that he is third in the NHL with 14 points. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog is confident the team will figure out how to get through the unknown period of time that MacKinnon will be out. He indicated that it’s better to go through something of this nature now than come playoff time.
While this is true, finding the right piece to replace MacKinnon is essential in order for the Avalanche to remain relevant in the conference. After all, his 14 points so far this season isn’t a fluke. MacKinnon was third in the league in points with 93 (35 goals, 58 assists) last season.
According to coach Jared Bednar, J.T. Compher will play at in MacKinnon’s place on the top line. Compher will have to pick up his game after scoring just two points on a goal and an assist so far this season. Perhaps on the top line with Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen will give him increased chances of scoring in the interim. Perhaps this new opportunity for Compher will in fact increase his game, which can only help in the long run when he returns to another line after MacKinnon returns.
Other injuries the Avalanche must overcome after those to goal Pavel Francouz, defenseman Devon Toews, forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, forward Matt Calvert, and defenseman Erik Johnson. Injuries are part of the game, just some are harder to overcome than others. Look for the Avalanche to find a way to hold their own until the above and particularly, MacKinnon, return to action.