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GOTTA SEE IT: Kovalenko In Avalanche Colors For First Time; Nichushkin Joins

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Avalanche Kovalenko Nichushkin

I held off on this final road trip for the Colorado Avalanche and stayed back in Denver, but I did notice the team had blocked off some ice at Family Sports this week. With nothing else to do, I scurried down to the arena this morning to see if anything interesting was going on, and it’s safe to say that was the right decision.

Nikolai Kovalenko, technically assigned to the Colorado Eagles at the moment, was on the ice with Toby Petersen. A few moments later, Valeri Nichushkin, currently out with a lower-body injury, joined in, and the three of them had a long session that lasted about an hour.

Let’s start with Kovalenko, who got back on the ice this weekend in Loveland, according to the Avalanche. His helmet read #51, which is hardly a surprise given he wore it in Russia and that’s the number his father wore in the NHL. He looked like a guy trying not to overwork his injured knee too much for the first little while, but as the session went on, he got more and more comfortable. The only issue is that for the final little bit, you could tell the altitude was hitting him. Overall, incredibly encouraging stuff from him. Getting him around some of the staff and the players is a good thing.

My guess all along has been that the April 9 game against the Minnesota Wild would be a good target for him, and I’ll stick to it. This is a guess, mind you. He doesn’t look ready to play right now, but another week and he could be good. Again, keep in mind that I am not a doctor, and I don’t play one on TV.  There’s also the issue of conditioning and getting him up to speed. Could they have him play a rehab game for the Eagles? That’s possible, but the Eagles are out of town for the next two weeks. Joining them wouldn’t be an issue, but it hasn’t even been a month since his injury and he was playing playoff hockey prior to coming here, so I’m not sure it’s necessary. That’s a decision for management, though.

The Avalanche likely won’t practice on Saturday when they get back in town, so even if he was healthy, I don’t think he’d play against the Stars, but I could be wrong. This is assuming the injury continues to progress, but an hour on the ice is pretty good. Toby Petersen worked him hard.

Valeri Nichushkin looked like a guy who could play tonight if he needed to, but I don’t know the exact nature of his injury. I have no control over this (obviously), but there’s no reason to rush him. The Avalanche have clinched a spot, and he’s far too important to the team to risk bringing him back too early if it could linger. Let him rest up.

I should note that Gabriel Landeskog did join them on the ice, but he stayed off on one side of the ice and worked on his own. There’s really nothing new to report there.

Here’s some videos mashed together from today’s session at Family Sports to wet your beak.

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Karl Keen

Great stuff! Encouraging signs. Seems like Nuke should get out and join the team before the weather hamstrings him in CO.

It would have been great to see Landy doing all these drills, but unfortunately doesn’t seem like he is ready.

Evan, any update on the Trenin and his late scratch?

*831*

Agreed! Val needs to join the team. They’re gonna need him most likely in order to beat Edmonton.

Rick

Happy for you that you were there, Evan!

The video where they were dangling through that sea of pucks really shows the difference between Nichushkin’s hands and Kovalenko’s. I think we sometimes forget that Val was a #10 overall pick.

Couldn’t agree more on letting Val heal.

If Kovy is in by the WIld on the 9th that would conceivably have him available for the last 3 games versus 3 top end teams: Winnipeg, Vegas and Edmonton. That should give everyone a solid idea of how he’d stack up in the playoffs.

Rick

Good point.

*831*

Val needs to hurry back! We need him asap. Avs should really make a run for the division/west #1 seed

Joe Cerwinske

Incredible work, Evan! Your hard work and great analysis is what keeps me visiting this site multiple times a day. 🙂 Really encouraging to see both guys on the ice, and it’s clear that Kovalenko won’t be lacking in solid Russian mentors on this team. It’s been said that culture and fit are the best ways for an NHL player to succeed, and it definitely seems like both are there for Nikolai!

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