Without star center Nathan MacKinnon, the Colorado Avalanche could miss the postseason.
The Colorado Avalanche have been one of the NHL’s best surprise teams this season. A year after having one of the worst seasons of the modern era, they sit just outside of the playoffs in a very competitive Central Division. This is in large part thanks to the efforts of Nathan MacKinnon, who has blossomed into a Hart Trophy candidate.
However, their heart and soul will miss at least the next two to four weeks. MacKinnon suffered an injury against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. The Avalanche were hoping it would be more of a day-to-day thing (though everyone is day-to-day when you think about it). Much to the misfortune of Colorado, it’s a week-to-week thing.
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According to Daily Faceoff, the Avalanche will go into Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers with Alexander Kerfoot as the temporary top line center. The rookie center has 12 goals and 20 assists for 32 points this season in 46 games. Obviously, that’s a step back from MacKinnon’s 61 points in 47 games, but that’s actually not too bad.
How long Nathan is out will determine how badly this hurts the Avalanche’s postseason chances. Every game he’s out, Colorado will have a much lower likelihood of winning than they would with him. Two weeks would have MacKinnon returning after missing seven games. That would be ideal, since the Avalanche are only facing three playoff teams during the span.
Losing him for four weeks, however, would have him returning after the NHL trade deadline. While they still wouldn’t be playing many postseason teams, the sooner MacKinnon can return, the better. Even if the Avalanche are without him for four weeks, on paper, you can’t ask for a much better four-week span to lose your best player.
That said, Colorado relies very heavily on MacKinnon. So it should be very interesting to see how they do without him. But the Avalanche are unquestionably better with him in the lineup.