For the fourth consecutive game, the Colorado Avalanche will be without Cale Makar.
The reigning Norris Trophy winner took morning skate again, but will not play tonight.
Before breaking off into powerplay groups, Makar and head coach Jared Bednar had a long talk at center ice. After the talk was done, Bednar called over Devon Toews to run the first powerplay unit. A pretty clear indication that Makar told the coach he wasn’t quite ready to go.
The Avalanche will face a Washington Capitals squad that has had to deal with injury issues of their own all season. With 56 points, they hold down a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, and recently got some important players back from injury.
“They’ve gone through a lot of what we’ve gone through,” Bednar said after morning skate. “Some of their injuries, and the guys they’ve been missing, it’s their top players. Obviously the margin for error gets smaller and smaller. We’re sitting right now with almost identical records, right? It’s a good hockey team, and obviously have some dangerous weapons.”
The Avalanche will start Alexandar Georgiev in net, while it appears old friend Darcy Kuemper will get the start for the Capitals.
MacDermid and Hunt
I spoke to Kurtis MacDermid and Brad Hunt in the locker room after skate about a few things.
For MacDermid, he’s enjoyed getting back to his natural defensive position the last several games.
“It’s always good to get in a rhythm on the back end,” MacDermid said. “At the same time, it’s whatever the team needs on each given night, so just got to be prepared for anything.”
The Avalanche have been rolling seven defensemen of late, and that appears as though it will happen again tonight. That means different partners for defensemen on any shift. But given how the team usually runs things, it’s not all that different.
“When we have 6 ‘D’, we’re kind of switching around a bit anyway,” he said. “So I think all the guys are comfortable with playing with one another.”
The Avalanche play only three games until the All-Star break. As much as any team could use a break, is it coming at a bad time? Hunt doesn’t think so.
“Anytime you have a break as a team, it’s good,” Hunt said. “Obviously, we are on a bit of a hot streak but I think that just creates more confidence going into the break and then everyone gets kind of regenerated for the second half push.”
Other News and Notes
- Bowen Byram joined morning skate for the first time since his injury. That’s just a step in the right direction. “He was a little bit behind Manson, and now he’s in a spot where he can join the team and get more action.” Byram, as well as Denis Malgin, are possible options to return right after the break.
- There is no new update on Darren Helm’s injury.
- For the Capitals, Alexander Ovechkin is a game-time decision. He missed their last game due to injury.
The Avalanche and Capitals face off at Ball Arena tonight. The game starts at 7 PM MST.