Colorado avalanche injuries came in big waves.
Variations on “better now than in the playoffs” are often repeated. However, the avalanche (14-8-2) has to trudge there, and organizational depth alleviates the pain somewhat.
Nathan MacKinnon returned Wednesday night against the Arizona Coyotes, but the injured list still includes JT Compher, Bo Byram, Cale Makar and Erik Johnson. Even their injury replacement needs injury replacement. Conor Timmins joined the list on Monday and Greg Pateryn took his place. Dennis Gilbert had facial surgery after injuring himself in a fight on February 16 and recently started skating again.
For now, the Colorado Eagles provide the AHL with a solid part of the line-up.
“There are games where these young people come in and play off some of our veterans,” said coach Jared Bednar.
Bednar counted Jacob MacDonald and Jayson Megna among the most impressive substitutes of the round. MacDonald, who scored his first NHL goal on February 27, made himself popular with the big club by playing significant minutes in several situations – he cracked 20 on Friday.
“He’s helping us in many different areas for a man who wasn’t on our original list,” said Bednar.
Megna was the odd man when MacKinnon came back on the line-up, but Bednar said he was good at a draw and his right-footed shot as a center is appreciated.
Megna’s part said he would always feel more comfortable being able to stay around.
“It was great fun to be back, especially with a team as good as this one,” he said. “I just try to do what I can to contribute.
“I’ve worked hard to get back here and hopefully it will pay off.”
Dan Renouf seizes an opportunity that finally presents itself. He played three seasons at the University of Maine before turning pro. He then spent four full seasons at the AHL level for the farm teams of the Detroit Red Wings, Carolina Hurricanes and last season of the Avalanche. The 26-year-old had only played one NHL-level game in 2017 before being called up for Colorado.
“You can see that he is very good defensively,” said Avalanche defender Samuel Girard. “He’s also very strong. He’s doing us good now. “
He has spent the last seven games with Colorado, sometimes with Devon Toews. Despite his lack of NHL experience, Bednar called Renouf “stable” after recording his first career point, an assist, on Friday.
“He’s a pleasant surprise,” said Bednar. “We got a lot of good information and a lot of praise and feedback from the coaches at the Eagles, and he did it justice. He’s doing a good job for us. “
“I think he was a trustworthy defense attorney. Some nights he moves the puck a little better than others, but his game has a certain hardness. He’s not going to betray us in his attempt or his work ethic. I find that he is doing the right readings in our system. “
One-year-old Minnesota Duluth Bulldog hunter Miska has been injured since the start of the season as substitute goalkeeper Pavel Francouz. He’s allowed several goals late in otherwise solid starts and that cost the Avalanche a possible overtime defeat on Saturday. In the third, he conceded two goals in seven shots.
“I think he’s a bit disappointed with himself after (his) last game,” said Bednar. “He’s under a lot of pressure to play well for us and he hasn’t had the best game.
“It looks to me like he’s getting a little nervous towards the end of the games after playing really well most of the hockey game. It’s a young mistake, but he just has to keep working on it. “
Bednar declined to include Logan O’Connor on the substitute list as he played two six-game stints and five playoff games for the Avalanche in 2019-20. Bednar thinks he is “basically a regular”.
The former Denver pioneer has scored three goals in 13 games and is at times successful as a checkline winger with confidence in the penalty shoot-out.
Bednar said there was “no question” that it will be difficult to take O’Connor off the line when they are back to full capacity.
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