After the Tuesday night game against the Anaheim Ducks, it looked like the Colorado Avalanche might be in for some rough times when it came to injuries.
Bowen Byram had just left the game with an upper body injury. Nathan MacKinnon was hobbled after a blocked shot, but stayed in. Both Cale Makar and Andrew Cogliano were not healthy enough to play. Already down Artturi Lehkonen and Sam Girard, it looked like the Avalanche might have a very different looking lineup against the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Thursday.
Crisis has been averted.
All of Byram, Makar, MacKinnon, and Cogliano will be in the lineup to take on the Jets. That’s great news for the home team, who are now 9-2 at Ball Arena and want to continue their winning ways at home.
The one person who won’t get back into the lineup?
“I don’t think (Nichushkin) will play tonight,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said after morning skate.
I didn’t talk to Logan O’Connor after skate, but I did overhear him talking to another reporter, and it sounds like he’ll be back up on the top line again tonight. Beyond that, who knows?
With Cogliano returning, the Avalanche sent Oskar Olausson back to the Colorado Eagles this morning. The team was happy with what they saw from the 21 year old forward.
“I thought he was pretty good,” Bednar said. “I really liked his play on the offensive side of it with the puck. I thought he was strong in the battles, competitive, good puck decisions. Didn’t have a bunch of turnovers or anything…got caught a couple of times on the defensive side of it where he was not in the right spot, or his awareness wasn’t where it needed to be, but he’s been working hard at that. He’s made strides, no question.”
Malinski Stays In
I had a good chat with Sam Malinski after morning skate. With the return of Makar, I wasn’t so sure he was going to stay in the lineup.
Bednar answered that question for me.
“I think he’s been playing really well. He’ll be in again tonight,” Bednar said. “He’s been doing some good things on both sides of the puck. He looks really calm and poised and he’s executing well.”
With each passing day, Malinski feels a little better up at the NHL level.
“I feel good. I feel like each game is getting a little bit more comfortable,” he told me. “There’s obviously a lot of room for improvement, so just focusing on that.”
One thing he has noticed is how different the NHL game is compared to the AHL game.
“It is definitely different, especially with the top two lines,” Malinski said. “The pace of play is a little bit faster, and just on turnovers, players transition really quickly. It’s something you have to be aware of. You just have to be really consistent and strong.”
Listen, no one is Cale Makar, and I’m not saying Malinski is Makar by any means, but he does have some of that edge work at the offensive blueline that does remind you a little bit of #8.
I told that to Malinski, and he shut it down pretty quickly.
“I think that’s a little bit of a stretch, for sure,” he deadpanned.
Okay, that’s fair, but as a defenseman getting his feet wet in the NHL, seeing a guy like Makar work up close has got to help.
“He’s a guy that I’ve watched ever since he entered the league,” Malinski said. “Incredible player, and I guess maybe I’ve learned some stuff from him, just watching him with his deception at the blueline and finding ways to get through the neutral zone.”
Other News And Notes
- With Malinski staying in, that could mean one of two things. One, the Avalanche go 11 forwards and 7 defensemen. Or two, Caleb Jones is a scratch. I think Jones has played quite well, so that would be a surprise, but we’ll find out during warmups.
- Alexandar Georgiev will start in net for Colorado.
- I had a chat with Tomas Tatar this morning, and he was very honest. Will have something up for that, likely + content.