The Colorado Avalanche were hoping to get good news Tuesday morning when Evan Rodrigues arrived at the rink for practice.
They got the opposite.
“Not great,” Jared Bednar said, when asked how Rodrigues is feeling. “Yeah, he is in protocol.”
The “protocol” Bednar is referring to is concussion protocol. That means that Rodrigues will be out for at least a week, starting Wednesday night against his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It’s a really tough break for the Avalanche. Already down Artturi Lehkonen, they’ve been running thin up front.
It’s an especially tough break for Rodrigues. After a rough stretch following the All-Star break, he had worked his way out of a slump. He entered Monday night’s game with six points in his previous nine contests, and found himself playing well on the top line with stars Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.
The injury occured on a hit in the second period from Connor Murphy. While there was contact with the head, Bednar didn’t have an issue with the hit itself.
“There’s no question, there’s head contact,” Bednar said on the hit. “But I don’t know that it was avoidable. He’s coming right through his body. He’s lined right up, straight through his head, chest, torso. I don’t think it was a dirty hit. I didn’t necessarily think E-Rod’s was after that, either.”
Without Rodrigues, the Avalanche will have to adjust. Again.
Denis Malgin, coming off a three point effort, will move to the top line, while Alex Newhook looks like he will get the first crack at stepping into the top six. He practiced on a line with J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin on Monday. On the powerplay, Lars Eller will replace Rodrigues, getting his first opportunity on the man advantage since coming over from Washington.
As for who will enter the lineup, that’s a mystery. Both Darren Helm and Erik Johnson were full participants at practice on Monday, but when asked if either of them are options to enter the lineup on Wednesday, Bednar had the same answer.
“I don’t know yet.”
I would not expect to see Cale Makar on Wednesday night either. The Avalanche took their team photo prior to practice, and before he got off the ice, Makar tested his injury a little bit with trainers watching. He did not stick around for practice with the team, though.
The Avalanche will hold an optional morning skate on Wednesday, but Bednar will be available with an update on the lineup at that point. Stick to Colorado Hockey Now for any updates as they come in later today, including a potential call-up if neither Helm or Johnson are deemed fit to play.