Avalanche forward Mackinnon out for regular season, broken foot
The Denver Post
The hits keep on coming for the Avalanche.
Second-year winger Nathan MacKinnon suffered a broken foot and will be out of action six to eight weeks, the Avalanche announced Friday.
That means MacKinnon will miss the rest of the regular season. Colorado has 18 games remaining, including at Columbus Saturday and at Minnesota Sunday. The regular season ends on April 11 against Chicago at home.
Because the Avalanche is nine points out of what would be the final Western Conference playoff spot — as of Friday, that second wild-card team was Winnipeg — it seems likely that Colorado won’t make the playoffs and MacKinnon won’t skate again in a game until next season.
After practice Friday, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said MacKinnon took a shot to the foot against Tampa Bay on Feb. 22. “X rays were negative, and then he got another shot against Pittsburgh,” Roy said of the Avalanche’s 3-1 win Wednesday. “He came after practice yesterday complaining a bit about it, and after practice he had an MRI, and it revealed that he had a fracture. The doctors made a decision basically that he was out.”
MacKinnon, 19, was benched against Dallas last week, playing only 100 seconds in the third period and overtime, and then played on the third and fourth lines in the Saturday loss at home against Minnesota. In the third period of that 3-1 loss to the Wild, he sustained a broken nose when taking a hit from Minnesota’s Sean Bergenheim. Yet he was back on the top line against Pittsburgh Wednesday and in good spirits after the game before skating the full practice Thursday.
Had the foot injury affected his play since that Tampa Bay game nearly two weeks ago?
“I don’t think so,” Roy said. “Through a season, your players are going through different injuries. Then I would say, ‘No.’ “
MacKinnon, the reigning Calder Trophy winner as the NHL’s rookie of the year and the No. 1 overall choice in the 2013 draft, hasn’t missed a regular season game since joining the Avalanche. He has appeared in 64 games this season and has 14 goals and 24 assists. He had 24 goals and 39 assists as a rookie.
“It’s never good news when you lose a player like Nate, especially at a key moment in our season,” Roy said. “But … it’s been a year like this. We’re going to have to find a way to win games without him.”
Captain Gabriel Landeskog also is MacKinnon’s linemate. “It’s a tough break for us,” Landeskog said. “It might change our lineup a little bit. It doesn’t change our mindset at all. We still have the same mindset and the same goal in mind.”
Landeskog said the injury “has been hurting him, but he’s been fighting through it and working through it, just like anybody. We have defensemen blocking five, six shots a game and everybody’s working through something this time of year. Nobody’s skating around out there feeling good physically. It’s certainly one of those things that didn’t get better and ended up being bad for him. We’re going to miss him, that’s for sure.”
Center Matt Duchene said of the piled-up injuries: “That’s part of the game. I think every team has key injuries throughout the year and it’s all about managing … It’s a tough bounce. Nate’s obviously one of our best players, a guy who has been great for us lately especially and a guy who’s always dangerous on the ice. We’ll miss him for sure.”
To complicate matters, center Joey Hishon had to be helped off the ice after a collision during practice Friday and didn’t return. By the time he was heading to the dressing room, though, he seemed to be walking without support. Roy indicated Hishon would be able to play this weekend.
“We’ll see tomorrow, but yes, the answer to your question as we speak is he will play tomorrow,” Roy said. He added that the team would make a decision Friday about whether to call up another forward from the Lake Erie Monsters.
Roy said that in the game at Columbus, Cody McLeod would step into MacKinnon’s spot on the line with Ryan O’Reilly and Landeskog, and that Hishon would center the fourth line with Daniel Briere and Marc-Andre Cliche.
Also on the injury front, defenseman Erik Johnson was on the ice after practice Friday, and Roy confirmed it was the first time he had skated since underdoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Jan. 26, nearly six weeks ago. The team originally said he would be out three to eight weeks, and Roy indicated “it will be in that range.”
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