EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Andre Burakovsky may be back in the Colorado Avalanche lineup for tonight’s potential closeout Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals against the Edmonton Oilers.
That was probably the biggest takeaway from another morning skate at Rogers Place. Burakovsky wore a regular sweater and got some reps in with the second power-play unit – a good sign that he’ll play.
Jared Bednar, however, remained mum on his lineup. He would not say whether Andre Burakovsky would be in the lineup or not. He also did not say whether Darcy Kuemper would be in uniform tonight, even if just the backup to Pavel Francouz.
Kuemper has practiced at what seemed all-systems-go the last two days, but has not dressed the last two games.
About Nazem Kadri: a lot of speculation that he’s got a broken right thumb, stemming from the hit from Evander Kane in Game 3 (Kane will be suspended for Game 4). Can he possibly play with such an injury in the Stanley Cup Finals, should the Avs get that far? Kadri, by the way, is back in Denver, Bednar said.
Avalanche veteran Jack Johnson seems to believe there is a chance.
“He’s going to do everything in his power to get back during this run,” Johnson said. “When we saw him before he left, he was in good spirits, really positive. Just keeping our fingers crossed for him.”
Other players have played with broken thumbs. Jack Eichel of the Vegas Golden Knights, in fact, played with one for the last six weeks of the regular season. Eichel did not have surgery because the thumb was non-displaced -but it was badly fractured. Whether Kadri needs surgery or not could determine his availability for the Finals.
Jacob Trouba of the Rangers missed 4-6 weeks last season because of a broken thumb.
But the Avs still have to win one more game for that to happen, and, as they love to say in hockey, the fourth game is the toughest to win.
Who will be the second-line center tonight remains a mystery, as the Avs didn’t do any real line rushes. I’m going to wager it’ll be Mikko Rantanen, but we’ll see. Nicolas Aube-Kubel skated this morning, by the way.
See you tonight…
And, don’t forget: the Avs will host a watch party at Ball Arena tonight. $10 gets you a lower-bowl seat to watch on the huge, crystal clear JumboTron – and there are merch giveaways and other fun stuff. Buy tickets here:
Kelsey Hammond contributed to this story