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Evan’s NHL Daily: Kovalenko Arrives In Denver…With An Injury

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With just one month left in the NHL season, there’s not a lot of time for the Hart Trophy favorites to separate themselves from each other. NHL.com picked their favorite, and I think it’ll make Avalanche fans very happy.

The Avalanche are heading to St. Louis for the final game in their road trip, but perhaps their biggest wild card down the stretch arrived in Denver on Sunday. Could we be seeing his NHL debut later this week?

All that and more in this Monday edition of Evan’s Daily.

Colorado Hockey Now

The return of Artturi Lehkonen to the lineup against the Oilers paid major dividends for the Avalanche.

Kovalenko Arrives In Denver

How close are we to Nikolai Kovalenko’s NHL debut? On Sunday, he arrived in Denver, just over a week after his KHL season ended. The Avalanche believe he can contribute to the team down the stretch and into the playoffs, but know there will be an adjustment for him.

Kovalenko will not join the team in St. Louis for the final game of the trip, so he’ll likely meet the team when they return. If/when he does play his first game, I believe we will have our first father/son combination to have both played games for the Avalanche, as Nikolai’s father (Andrei) played in Colorado in 1995. We’ve had Nordiques/Avalanche combinations, but I don’t believe we’ve had any Avalanche/Avalanche combos.

The problem? The hit he took in the final minutes of his last KHL game did appear to do a little bit of damage. According to his father, Kovalenko suffered a knee sprain and will need to be checked out by the doctors in Colorado. It doesn’t sound very serious, though. He thinks maybe another week or so to recover, from his experience.

I’ll have a large film room up on Kovalenko later today to give a rundown of what type of player he is and what to look for when he does make his NHL debut.

Hart Tracker

I look at Hockey Night In Canada games as matches that can win over some voters over the course of the year. Nathan MacKinnon has had two big performances on Saturday’s. Back in Toronto, he helped the Avalanche come back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Maple Leafs, and on Saturday, he made a ridiculous play to feed Lehkonen for the overtime winner in Edmonton.

Maybe that’s part of the reason why NHL.com believes MacKinnon is the favorite for the Hart Trophy in the NHL this year.

He’s not a huge favorite. MacKinnon racked up 65 points in the vote, while Nikita Kucherov was at 49. Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews were next in line.

MacKinnon leads the NHL with 116 points, but Kucherov is right behind him with 114, so we’ll be following this race closely down the stretch.

National Hockey Now

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Danny Briere reveals the truth about Ryan Johansen.

The Red Wings will get Dylan Larkin back in a week. Will that be too late?

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Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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