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Avalanche playoffs

Frei: Captain Landeskog is back … right on schedule

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Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avlanche

It really was kind of quirky.

After the Avalanche’s 2-0 loss to the Hurricanes in Raleigh on March 10, Gabriel Landeskog seemingly eagerly jumped in as the first player on the Zoom call with the media.

He declared he had never in 11 years as captain used a post-game forum mainly to gripe about the officiating.

And then he griped about the officiating.

He mainly defended Nazim Kardi and pointed out what Landeskog believed to be unconscionable double standards in officials’ calls and non-calls when Kadri was involved.

Landeskog drew a mainly symbolic game misconduct in the final stretch of the game for speaking his mind to referee T.J. Luxmore, but that was secondary.

He didn’t seem to limp away from the table and microphone.

It turned out that Landeskog’s regular season had just ended — with 23 games remaining.

Two days later, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar announced Landeskog had been plagued by a troublesome knee injury and shortly would undergo surgery with the goal of returning late in the season or for the opening of the playoffs.

Goal achieved.

Landeskog was made available to the media for the first time since his surgery on Monday, the eve of Game 1 of the Predators-Avalanche first-round series at Ball Arena.

He’s expected to be back in the lineup after going through full practices Sunday and Monday.  It’s possible he could jump right back onto the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, or skate on the second line with Kadri, if Kadri — who missed his second straight practice Monday — is deemed sufficiently recovered from his non-COVID illness to play.

I asked Landeskog about how the injury and surgery seemed to come out of nowhere — even if it obviously hadn’t.

“I had played all year and there was no specific play where it happened,” Landeskog said. “It was just one of those things, wear and tear. It wasn’t getting any better. It was going the other way. So we decided to go that route and I’m happy I did. I feel good.”

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How is he now?

“I feel good,” he repeated.

‘Nuff said.

“You never know, with surgery there’s always risks,” Landeskog said. “I haven’t had a whole lot of surgeries in my career. I was confident. I talked to a lot of doctors, got some professional opinions and feel like I made the right decision for myself, but also for the team specifically. I’m looking forward to a long playoff run here and that was the goal, making sure that I was healthy for this part of the season.”

Clearly, Landeskog, doctors and the team concluded there was a cutoff date for the Swedish captain to be able to have the arthroscopic surgery and recover in time for the playoffs.

And it was an accurate timetable.

“It was bugging him for a little while,” Jared Bednar said Tuesday morning. “He was playing through it and still obviously was very productive. But over time the wear and tear of the season can hurt you a little bit more with some of the nagging injuries that you have. He went and had it looked at, kept playing through it and went and had it looked at again.

“If we’re going where we want to go, it could be a long playoff run, and that’s what we’re all hoping for and working towards. And if it kept getting worse, even at a gradual level, then it would hamper his play. So there was a timing issue in there that if he was going to get his knee fixed, he needed to get it fixed by a certain point and he decided to do that and make sure we get him back by playoffs.”

Landeskog finished the regular season with 30 goals and 29 assists in 51 games.

“You want to jump right back into it,” he said. “Obviously there’s some adrenaline of playoff hockey and that’ll come kid of naturally. I’ve been skating for 10 days or so now and started feeling really good. There’s going to be some timing things and stuff like that you want to get rid of and just force yourself to adapt that much quicker. But I’ve been watching a lot of hockey, especially the last weeks, trying to take some space and time away from the game and just enjoy family time, try to get away a little bit and recharge. I feel good and hopefully the adjustment period won’t be too long.”

Terry Frei (terry@terryfrei.com, @tfrei) is a Denver-based author and journalist. He has been named a state’s sportswriter of the year seven times in peer voting — four times in Colorado and three times in Oregon. His seven books include the novels “Olympic Affair” and “The Witch’s Season.” Among his five non-fiction works are “Horns, Hogs, and Nixon Coming,” “Third Down and a War to Go,” “March 1939: Before the Madness,” and “’77: Denver, the Broncos, and a Coming of Age.” He also collaborated with Adrian Dater on “Save By Roy,” was a long-time vice president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and has covered the hockey Rockies, Avalanche and the NHL at-large. His web site is www.terryfrei.com and his bio is available at www.terryfrei.com/bio.html

His Colorado Hockey Now column archive can be accessed here

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ricoflashback

Welcome back to our Captain. It’s almost like acquiring an All-Star just before the playoffs begin!

Donald Victory

No mo LazyDog! You need to be what Frei called you! Captain Obvious! Captain Kirk. Captain Nemo. Captain Picard, El Capitan. Captain Landeskog, Whatever you call him no braindead plays, dumb penalties. Oh Captain oh Captain!

Aaron Rud

Donald, you make some good points sometimes, but you’re so obnoxious that everyone turns a deaf ear to you. Maybe concentrate on improving your approach.

Aaron Rud

Finally!!!!! Leadership is back!!!!

GWood

The time is now, now is the time. Go get 16W’s boys!

Karl Keen

My prediction:
Win game 1 big making us all of feel warm inside
Win game 2, but play our play fluctuates between full dominance and uneven moments with careless turnovers
Win game 3, but outplayed and lucky in front of a very spirited Nashville crowd
Saros returns Lose game 4 in a listless performance
Win Game 5 in OT 2-1 after Saros stands on his head. Even game

I hope I’m wrong about the performance aspect, but not the results.

Donald Victory

Very keen, no inference intended. Game 2 please please no more careless turnovers. That is the job of the coaching staff and game planning learnt from the previous game. Jrod is not the highest IQ coach in North America. If his mind matched his biceps I would feel more comfortable!

Glendon Gulliver

Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon was fined the maximum $5,000 for his crosscheck last night on Pavel Buchnevich. There was true intent to injure, not just a good hockey play that resulted in injury. I wonder how many Wild fans were screaming that Spurgeon should be suspended for life, like they did for MacDermid? That said, you can play a tough brand of hockey without going over the line. That is what the Avs need to do. They need to control their emotions and play disciplined. Make the other team pay for their penalties with PP goals. Get frustrated? Continue to… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Glendon Gulliver
Karl Keen

The Mild just can’t play with the Blues.

That hit was pretty nasty by Clifford last night in the Maple Leafs game. I see he has a player safety hearing. I see those hits and I cannot help but think of Byrum.

Glendon Gulliver

Some teams just give others a hard time. There are teams that for some reason the Avs have difficulty with. The Wild have a bunch of goons, but they won’t admit it. Hopefully, the Preds do not go the same route, if the Avs start to dominate. The Avs have had difficulty with the Preds this year. No one should make excuses for that difficulty. The Preds can win if the Avs think they are too good and don’t give it their all for 60 minutes a game.

Donald Victory

Minnesoda. Drinking too much Coke and Pepsi and it is impacting their minds or lack thereof. Long live McDermid!

dk

That should be pretty easy in this series. Nashville has proven themselves to be the most undisciplined team in the Show. They averaged 4.78 penalties against per game this season. They also have one of the worst PK records of the teams in these playoffs.

Aaron Rud

I’m originally from Minnesota, and I was listening to their radio guys talk about it. The guys talk all things Minnesota sports. Surprisingly, they were absolutely torching Spurgeon for being such an idiot.

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