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Game Preview: Avalanche at Oilers

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"The horror! The horror!"

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

If you needed reminding, the Colorado Avalanche have just ten games remaining in the regular season. They're currently in line for a playoff spot, but they have a brutal upcoming schedule and the dastardly Minnesota Wild are breathing down their necks just one point behind in the standings. Naturally, the team is just now suffering its most severe rash of injuries of the season.

We learned on Friday morning Matt Duchene would miss between seven and ten days due to a knee injury, though the official team prognosis is "Day-to-Day." As terrible as that is, it got immeasurably worse during the evening's game when both Eric Gelinas left the game with an elbow injury (out indefinitely) and Nathan MacKinnon hobbled off to the locker room after colliding knees during a face-off. The Avalanche have made no statement concerning his condition other than he will be reevaluated in the coming days, though the team recalling Mikko Rantanen yesterday from the San Antonio Rampage may lend some insight to its severity. Colorado's 2015 1st Round draft pick has just three games of service time remaining before a year of his Entry Level Contract is utilized. Surpassing that threshold would be a notable financial investment the team was hoping to avoid.

The situation is somewhat mitigated by the return of captain Gabriel Landeskog, who missed the three previous games while being suspended for a cross-check to the head against Anaheim. The big Swede may be asked to take on more of a scoring role if the team's top scorers are indeed out for a period of time. The sting of Gelinas' loss is dulled by the successful return of Chris Bigras who, before Friday night, had missed the previous three contests with concussion symptoms. However, instead of forming a solid third pairing with their deadline acquisition from the Devils, Bigras will most likely be paired again with Andrew Bodnarchuk.

How will Colorado construct its forward lines missing their top two centers? It's anybody's guess at the moment, but chances are we see some combinations we've yet to see this season. Who plays center besides Carl Soderberg and John Mitchell? Where does Rantanen slide in? How long do any of these initial lineups last before Roy starts rolling different combinations on the fly? There will be plenty of questions to answer before we hear more about these key injuries.

Edmonton, despite bringing up the rear in the Pacific Division standings, won't be a pushover either. They've been playing pretty decent hockey, going 6-4-0 in their previous ten games. That one guy who occasionally gets mentioned for doing things has four assists in his previous three games, though it's hard to confirm that because he gets so little media attention. Colorado won 3-2 in their last meeting on February 20th. Tyson Barrie had two goals and an assist to lead the team and Calvin Pickard stopped 25-of-27 shots to secure the victory.



(We'll update the article as information becomes available)


Puck drops at 7:30 Mountain Standard Time on all the usual broadcast avenues.