It’s official: the Avs will get some good reinforcements back in the names of Philipp Grubauer, Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi tonight against the San Jose Sharks at Ball Arena. This will be one of four remaining home games for the Avs, who sit six points out of first place in the Honda West Division, with one game in hand on the Vegas Golden Knights.
All three Avs players – out the last several games because of Covid-19 protocol, participated in the morning skate here at Ball Arena and coach Jared Bednar confirmed they will return tonight.
But, Bednar had a poison pill for the media too: he said he will not be giving out any lineup information prior to games from here on out. He said he doesn’t want to give the opposition too much time to prepare for various lineup scenarios. We will all have to wait until the lineup sheet comes out before games now. Hey, if I was a coach, I’d never tip my hand either.
Donskoi was back in the pivot on the first power-play unit. Rantanen was back in his usual spot at right wing, with Landeskog and MacKinnon. There really weren’t any line rushes, per see, at the skate, so I don’t have all the line combos for tonight.
Donskoi said he had some symptoms of the virus during his time off.
“It sucks,” Donskoi said. “I had some symptoms. But I’m good to go. I think it’s good to just jump back in. There’s no better way to get back into it than playing games.”
Rantanen said: “Obviously, watching those games was tough. But I’m happy to be back and feel pretty good.”
This has been a really tough time of the year for the Avs. The team still can’t do much of anything on the road, other than stay in their hotel rooms individually. I think this is taking a toll not just on them, but on many teams. Being on the road means big dinners out with the boys and other bonding experiences. They can’t do that, haven’t been able to do that all season. That, despite being vaccinated as a team.
I think the NHL should loosen the reins a bit, at least when it comes to team dinners out. But that’s just me.