More Avalanche Injuries: Erik Johnson out indefinitely

Rich Lam

If anyone thought there was the slightest, remotest chance that the Avs could possibly still make a decent showing this season, it's gone now.

Mike Chambers just reported head coach Joe Sacco's announcement that Erik Johnson suffered a head injury in Monday night's game against the Phoenix Coyotes when he was cleanly hit into the boards by Martin Hanzal. He's been listed as "out indefinitely" and will not make the road trip that begins Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild.

Although Johnson has not shown up much on the scoreboard, he has been the Avs' best defenseman by a margin so wide, it looks like the Grand Canyon. Losing him will make a tough job even tougher for Avalanche goaltenders. Since Ryan Wilson remains out with an ankle injury, this is the Avalanche blueline:

- Ryan O'Byrne
- Shane O'Brien
- Jan Hejda
- Greg Zanon
- Matt Hunwick
- Tyson Barrie

Matt Hunwick is going on the road trip and expected to play Thursday night after missing Monday's game due to a torso injury. One has to wonder if he's returning early because of Johnson's injury. One also has to wonder who will get the call up from the Lake Erie Monsters. It's been discussed before, but the likely candidates are Cameron Gaunce and Thomas Pock. Stefan Elliott is still out with his own head injury, and Gabriel Beaupre is still pretty green (though he wouldn't be a total shock).

Some good news was released today, though, as both Cody McLeod and Matt Duchene are fine and will also play. However, speculation that they're playing hurt would not be out of the question. John Mitchell has recovered from the flu, so the Avs will again enjoy his refreshingly good play.

For the third second (Avs can't even run a website well) time this season, JS Giguere will get the start when the team plays Thursday night in Minny.

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