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Dater Column: Constant Injuries Have Avs Fans On Their Last Nerve



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Tony Avelar/AP

You can’t blame Avalanche fans for being jumpier than a bunch of long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs. Right before every game, it seems, there’s another jump-scare for Avs fans. Tonight, it was “No Cale Makar, upper-body injury.”

Earlier in the day, it was “Nazem Kadri, lower-body injury.”

Then came overtime in Ottawa tonight, and you knew that would be a horror show. One thing shinily, abundantly clear by now in the Jared Bednar era: “Thou Avalanche will notteth winnith in overtimeith.”

The game: Despite winning the opening faceoff, the Avs found a new way to lose early in an overtime game. This time, the Avs controlled the puck the entire OT, except for when Nathan MacKinnon made a bad back pass in traffic behind Devon Toews in the offensive zone. With Toews over-committed because of the bad pass, Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk went the length of the ice to beat Justus Annunen on a wrister off the rush.

Overtime is just so infuriating to Avs fans now. Almost every time, the Avs just can’t make a play, and the first shot against them is in the net.

Still, the Avs found a way to get a point after being down 5-2 at one point. They tied the game with under two minutes left on a big blast from the point by stellar defenseman Devon Toews – his second goal of the game. They should have had the momentum, but then came OT, and things just don’t go right for the Colorado Avalanche in overtime.

“Turnovers – that’s how you get good rush opportunities,” Avs coach Bednar said. “Goals 1 and 2 (against) were both turnovers. … In overtime, that’s another turnover goal.”

Rookie callup Justus Annunen made 17-of-18 stops of the shots he saw in regulation after relieving leaky starter Jonas Johansson, but was beaten clean by Tkachuk on the OT shot.

“We’ve got to manage the puck better. We can’t keep giving them Grade A chances. We’ve got to be more disciplined with the puck. You can’t win just trading chances on a nightly basis. We have to be better defensively, and we’ve also got to get a save when we need it,” said Bednar, who also said he gave his team “credit” for the comeback point, calling it a “good point.”

The problem for this Avalanche team, beyond things on the ice, are the constant injuries that just play havoc with the things Bednar wants to do. Every night, he’s having to adjust his lineup because of sudden injuries, with new guys coming and going every other day from Loveland. Losing Darcy Kuemper has exposed the tissue-paper-thin depth the Avs have in goal, with Johansson having allowed 13 goals in a little more than seven periods of play so far on this road trip.

“We just can’t shake the injury bug. Unfortunately, it just keeps coming at us,” Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said.

NOTEBOOK: Bednar said all three guys (Kadri, Makar, Byram) are “day-to-day.”  … He also said Darcy Kuemper is day-to-day. …  Bednar said J.T. Compher will join the team in Philadelphia. Could he be a player that night? Doesn’t sound like it, as Bednar said downplayed that possibility, but he didn’t say it wouldn’t happen, either. … Devon Toews’ 31:17 of ice time tonight was the most by an Avs player since April 7, 2009, when Scott Hannan played 32:33 at San Jose. … MacKinnon had three assists, and has six points in the three games since returning from injury. He remains stuck at one goal scored on the season, however. … Pavel Francouz made 27 saves in a 4-0 shutout for the Colorado Eagles tonight. Could Frankie be with the Avs by Monday in Philadelphia, when they play their next game? I don’t know. But it wouldn’t shock me.

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