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Colorado Avalanche

Big Boost: Both Makar and Johnson Will Return For Avalanche Against Coyotes



Erik Johnson Colorado Avalanche NHL avalanche

Positive injury updates have been rare for the Colorado Avalanche this season, but for one day, they received good news.

Both Erik Johnson and Cale Makar will return to the lineup when the Avalanche take on the Arizona Coyotes tonight. A big boost for a team that has played shorthanded for months on defense.

Makar was not available to speak to the media after practice, but Johnson was. After fracturing his ankle on Feb. 11, he admitted he wasn’t sure if he would make it back before the playoffs started.

“I feel good,” Johnson said after morning skate. “Responded real well and back early, so that always feels good. I wasn’t sure, initially, if I would be back before the playoffs started, so happy in that sense and feel really good. Team played great while I was out, so hoping (a seamless transition back in the lineup.”

The original prognosis for Johnson was 8-10 weeks, but with a return tonight, he’ll have made it back in a little under six weeks. I asked him if he was surprised his ankle healed as quickly as it did.

“I was doing everything I could off the ice to make sure I got back early,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t sure how long it was going to be, but I got on the ice after three weeks and it felt really, really good and it just got better from there. I feel great and ready to go.”

His head coach, Jared Bednar, is very happy to get both Johnson and Makar back.

“Huge. Huge boost,” he said after skate.

Bednar had said Johnson was trending ahead of schedule in recent weeks, but only learned late last week that Johnson had a chance to return in the near future. He’s especially excited to get the big veteran back into the lineup.

“Some good luck there, some hard work from EJ,” Bednar said. “We’re happy to have him back, for sure.”

If morning skate is any indication, Makar will be back running the top powerplay unit and Johnson will step right back onto the penalty kill.

Alexandar Georgiev is expected to start in net.

Stay tuned to CHN for more updates on injuries.

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