First off, the Minnesota Wild lost a couple of guys tonight too, including probably their best defenseman these days. So, it’s not just the Avs who suffer all the injuries.
But that’s the nagging afterthought for me from this game tonight, a 5-1 Avs whipping of the Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Another key guy lost to injury. It was Erik Johnson. Again.
EJ suffered an upper-body injury from this check into the boards in the first period from Minnesot’s Jordan Greenway. Here it is:
The EJ injury pic.twitter.com/LDJqIXmokW
— Adrian Dater (@adater) January 31, 2021
It was a hard hit and what I don’t like most about the hit was how late it came after Johnson had already played the puck. But I think it was a clean hit. At first, I thought Greenway might have slew-foot Johnson, but his skates never actually swept out the feet of Johnson. EJ was just kind of in an awkward position and he landed hard on the ice, pretty much face-first.
No matter what I try to diagnose as to where the injury is, it’ll be wrong, so we just have to wait to hear how long he’ll be out. I mean, it looks like it could be a head injury, but his left shoulder took a hard crunch too it looked like, and even his right leg bent a bit awkwardly. The injuries are just starting to really pile up in Johnson’s career now, and it sucks. He’s still a good player and an important player to this team. The Avs have lost two of their top six defensemen in the last two games, and that’s just not good. Let’s hope for the best in their respective returns.
As for the game:
- The Wild lost Matt Dumba to what looked like a bad leg injury too, in the third period. Dumba scored the Wild’s only goal, a shot that deflected in off Philipp Grubauer’s face mask. They also lost Marcus Johansson. So, definitely not a good night for them either.
- I thought Joonas Donskoi had a great game for the Avs. He scored the winning goal, on the power play with about 16 seconds left in the first, off a great feed from Brandon Saad. He also was excellent defensively. Donskoi now has four goals, after too many analytics nerds who don’t know hockey panicked after his first few games. He’s a very good two-way hockey player. It’s not all about goals. But he’s got them now too.
- The Avs PK killed two Wild power plays, and now have a streak of 19 straight kills. They are 30-33 (90.9 percent) on the season.
- Avs only allowed 20 shots, and have allowed just an average of 25.4 so far on the season, per game. That ranks fifth in the league.
- Mikko Rantanen scored his league-leading seventh goal, and has scored in all five Avs road games so far. He really picked the top corner on his goal that made it 3-1 in the second period.
- That was quite a goal Logan O’Connor scored, eh? A shot that deflected in off the goalie’s loose stick, sitting in the crease after the a Wild teammate shuffled it from the corner to the front of the net. “I don’t think I’ve had one like that,” O’Connor said. “Our line’s mindset was just to keep it simple. We just wanted to be relentless on the D-men, use our speed and create turnovers.”
- That was Saad’s third straight multi-point game, after getting a talking to from coach Jared Bednar. “I thought we did a pretty good job,” Saad said. “I think, points aside, I just want to keep improving all year long. New team, new system, so you just try to jell as quick as you can. It’s a process here, so you just try to look at the big picture.”
- Who might play in place of Johnson tomorrow, assuming he won’t play (Bednar said he didn’t expect him to)? Probably Greg Pateryn.
- Cale Makar now has 10 points in nine games, all assists.
- Bednar: “We were skating pretty good early in the game, and they got a little undisciplined and we got even more power plays. If people want to keep putting us on the power play, we’ve got to take advantage of it. It seems like we’re getting opportunities and guys are finding the back of the net. Some of the confidence is coming back. We want to be a tougher checking team, and right now we’re not giving up a lot. Good all-around commitment to defend, and that’s leading to victories.”
- Hunter Miska will start Sunday’s game for the Avs.
- Anyone who wants $5 off a full-year subscription to the site, use the promo code word 5off in the checkout box on the subscription page. And, thanks! I’ll keep that sale going for a couple days.
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