Avalanche Gameday: Lehkonen is Back, Manson Will be Ready For Playoffs
It was a morning of good news for the Colorado Avalanche.
There was an indication it may be the case yesterday, but Jared Bednar confirmed that Artturi Lehkonen will return to the lineup on Thursday night against the Winnipeg Jets.
Ben Meyers, who has three goals in his last four games, will come out of the lineup.
Lehkonen was not available to the media after the very optional morning skate, but he’s a man of few words. Everyone knows what to expect from him. He’ll step right back into the lineup and play at the same way he always does. That makes it easy for a coach.
The good news continued, as Josh Manson confirmed he will be 100% ready for game one of the playoffs. He won’t play in the final two regular season games, but he’s worked hard to get back to a point where he is healthy.
He wasn’t always sure it was going to happen, though.
“100%,” Manson said, when asked if he was concerned he would never make it back for the playoffs. “The unknown, right? You just don’t know how it’s going to react, and I think that’s the most frustrating part. When it happened the second time, I was like, ‘well, what now?’ You know? You get that mental reset. Is it going to get better? I’d be lying if I said those thoughts didn’t come through my mind, but you just got to trust it and stay the course, I guess.”
Manson has been working hard off the ice, not just with rehab and treatment, but on the ice with skills coach Shawn Allard. He knows jumping back into the playoffs at the toughest time of the year is not going to be easy, though.
“I think it will be a little bit tougher than stepping back into a regular season game,” Manson said. “Just because things are going to be ramped up and whatever. But that’s why I want to make sure that the practices that I do are full-go, and working on all those little things, and really challenging myself, pushing myself. Trying to get up to speed the best I can, because playoffs will be tougher, right? And that’s what makes playoffs exciting, right? The pace is higher, it’s more physical. There’s more on the line.”
Cale Makar will not play, and the Avalanche haven’t decided if they will bring him to Nashville on Friday.
The Jets, meanwhile, will not be playing a lot of their star players. After clinching a playoff spot on Tuesday night, this game is meaningless to them, so they’re resting a lot of guys. And big names, too.
Josh Morrissey, Blake Wheeler, Mark Scheifele, Nate Schmidt, and Pierre-Luc Dubois will get the night off. Nikolaj Ehlers also will not play, but he’s banged up after taking a dirty hit from Ryan Hartman the other night. That doesn’t mean the Jets will be easier, according to Jared Bednar.
“The thing is, when you get a team that’s playing loose and you got a bunch of young guys coming in, they’re going to play hard,” Bednar said. “They’re hungry. They want to show something. They’re going to be a competitive team tonight. They may have some of their high-end talent out, but at the same time, it doesn’t make them any less dangerous on certain occasions. So, you’ve got to be ready to play and you’ve got to be ready to play hard.”
The Avalanche and Jets will face-off tonight at 6 PM MST in the final regular season home game of the year for Colorado.