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Another one bites the dust

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How much will Tanguay's loss affect the team? Can it get much worse, anyway?

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Capitals dropped the Colorado Avalanche to 4-4-5 in one-goal games with a 3-2 win on Thursday night in Denver. This, the latest in a season full of frustrating losses, came at a steep price as the Avs lost Alex Tanguay to a serious jaw injury on a rocket shot by Washington's Alex Ovechkin in the second period.

Most of this story is operating under the assumption that his jaw is broken. Head coach Patrick Roy said today he has a facial fracture, so it's safe to assume that he is going to be out for a while. The timetable for such an injury varies.

The Golden Boy was out for about a month when he broke his jaw at the end of the 2012-2013. Devils defenceman Eric Gelinas was out about seven weeks when he took a puck to the jaw in preseason of 2012-2013. Flyers prospect Samuel Morin broke his jaw Oct. 12 and is just working back into the minor league linup. And of course, Rangers center Derek Stepan only missed one game when he broke his jaw in the playoffs.

UPDATE: Roy said his jaw isn't broken, so that solves that. Hopefully it's not as serious as first worried. Other face injuries can lead to missed time, though.

Tanguay is a perfect fit for this team both on and off the ice. He can influence the game without the puck and can make plays when he does have the puck. That's an invaluable asset considering this team is chasing possession on a nightly basis. His 18.9 career shooting percentage is flat out absurd and a valuable trait to have if top-flight centers (What Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon hope to be) can create opportunities.

The shelf life of an NHL player is usually longer than other sports, so in a vacuum 35 isn't a particular age to worry about suffering these types of injures. But Tanguay will now miss parts in three of the last four seasons now with a variety of ailments:

2011-2012: Tanguay missed about 15 games with a neck injury for the Flames, but returned to produce at about the same rate. In total, Tangs had 49 points in 64 games as Calgary finished ninth in the Western Conference.

2013-2014: Of course we all know last year. After a bright start for both Tanguay and the team a devastating hip injury eventually resulted in February surgery after the hip caused an injury to his knee. The Avs went 15-1 with him in the lineup. The rest of the season went just fine for Colorado, but it would have been nice to have another offensive weapon in the playoffs when Ryan Suter was doing his thing for the Minnesota Wild.

The positive thing is that the injuries from last year healed up just fine and Tangs returned to be one of the best players on the team this year. Of course it sucks now that he's going to be out for a while, but with the season appearing lost at 6-9-5 the immediate absence probably won't kill the team. Tanguay is locked in for a reasonable $3.5 million next year, so let's hope he can return at some point during the midway point of this year, stay healthy and come in strong in 2015. Aside from a miserable season in Tampa Bay, Tanguay's overall play hasn't declined in any noticeable way when he last played over the last several seasons.

Tanguay has remained one of the most underrated players to ever put on an Avalanche sweater and will be missed regardless of how long he's out. With 784 points in 958 games in his career, it's a shame he is rarely acknowledged for being more than just a role player in many circles.

P.S.: A broken jaw worked out just fine for Kanye West

P.P.S.: And oh yea, happy birthday Alex!