Of course, there’s something new to worry about. Two days before the Colorado Avalanche is set to open the playoffs against the Nashville Predators, their second-line center, Nazem Kadri, called in sick to practice today.
Kadri, coach Jared Bednar said, is ill. It’s not Covid, he said, but it was bad enough that he couldn’t participate in practice. Let’s hope it’s not the same kind of illness that knocked Mikko Rantanen out of the lineup for about a week at the end of the regular season. I can tell you this: there is a really bad flu bug going around town. I had it, and when I went to my local King Soopers to get some cough medicine, just about everything was sold out. I asked a pharmacist about it, and she said that the flu was rampant.
Bednar sounded optimistic that Kadri would be available for Game 1. But is it a guarantee? Nope.
“We’ll see what happens with Naz and see how quickly he can get over this,” Bednar said.
So, that was the only bummer from practice. Otherwise, it was a pretty healthy squad out there, including the captain, Gabe Landeskog, in a regular jersey.
The captain pic.twitter.com/oH80ARrXiP
— Adrian Dater (@adater) May 1, 2022
Landeskog skated on a line with Artturi Lehkonen and Alex Newhook. Could that be a line in the playoffs? I don’t think we can know that, with Kadri not part of the mix today. I mean, Kadri would slot in there and Newhook would likely slide down a spot. Let’s just see what tomorrow brings. But Landeskog was on the first power-play unit today, so that’s a major sign that No. 92 will be good to go for Game 1.
Valeri Nichushkin skated with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. The third line consisted of Andre Burakovsky, J.T. Compher and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
On defense, the pairings were these:
So, it looks like Jack Johnson is the odd man out to start the playoffs. Tough break for a guy who played all year and did a great job. Sam Girard better play a lot better than the showed after coming back, and I know a lot of you, in the comments section, feel the same.
But Bednar had this to say: “If we get to where we want to go, we’re going to need everybody.”
- Bo Byram had a wisdom tooth pulled and started practice with a full facial shield. But he quickly discarded it for a regular one.
- Ryan Murray is “close” to being cleared, Jared Bednar said.
- Bednar said Landeskog will not start the playoffs with MacKinnon and Rantanen, because Nichushkin has been so good and Landy “just came back.” Obviously, things could change as the playoffs move along.
- Colorado Hockey Now will be in Nashville for Games 3 and 4. It’s a pretty expensive place right now, so, hey, if you want to contribute to the Avs Travel Tip Jar, I won’t stop you. The link to do so is here. A lot of you who contribute don’t like me giving you any publicity for it, but for those that do – I will certainly make you as famous as I can! Every dime goes to travel costs, but also 5 percent of every dollar goes to the Thornton Food Bank.
- For you fence-sitters, about subscribing to this here site: Until Game 1, I’ll take 20% off the regular, yearly price. Use the promo code 5off in the checkout box here, and the price for a 12-month subscription will magically drop from $29.99 to $24.99.
- When might Bednar dress Kurtis MacDermid for a game in the playoffs? “We’ll see. We’ll take it as it goes,” he said.
- Asked about how the Avs changed after the Matt Duchene trade in 2017, Bednar said, “The team got turned over to our young superstars – MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen. It became their team.”
- It sure doesn’t sound like Predators top goalie Juuse Saros will bet in net for Game 1 and beyond.
- Bednar maintained that last year’s second-round exit was “on us” and that “we need to make sure we get over that hump.”
- I would bet, based on what I see and hear, that Andrew Cogliano will get the edge over Darren Helm – and maybe even Logan O’Connor – for the playoffs. We’ll see.