In their first game back from the All-Star break, the Colorado Avalanche dropped a 4-3 decision to the Vancouver Canucks in overtime. It was a bad loss to a team they should have beat, though that’s not what Avalanche fans should be worried about. Coming out of that game, there is a very real possibility that the team will be without Nathan MacKinnon for a while, after the superstar left the game with an upper-body injury.
Just after the midway point of the second period, MacKinnon made contact with Vancouver’s Alexander Edler, in what looked like an innocent collision. The two fought for the puck and MacKinnon pushed back, looking like he was simply battling to finish the play.
After slowly making his way to the bench MacKinnon instantly called over the athletic trainer and clutched at his shoulder while obvious pain. After sitting on the bench for a few minutes, the star center made his way to Colorado’s dressing room and didn’t return.
This morning, Coach Bednar was on Altitude 905 where he gave an update on the injury.
“He’s out with an upper body injury... He will not play for us tomorrow... Hopefully it’s not that serious.”
The implication is that the injury shouldn’t sideline MacKinnon long-term, but as with most coaches, Bednar is being incredibly vague with the information he is giving us. They’er calling it an “upper-body” injury, but watching MacKinnon on the bench, it’s clear that he was feeling pain in his left shoulder/collar bone area.
The coach says “day-to-day”. To put that in perspective, Semyon Varlamov has been “day-to-day” for the past 30 days.
While he flew with the rest of the team to Edmonton last night, there is a chance that MacKinnon eventually returns to Denver to be re-evaluated with the hopes that he can return for the Avs’ next home game against the Sharks on February 6th. The best case scenario is that MacKinnon only misses a handful of games, but for right now, we should consider him out indefinitely - at least until we have a specific diagnosis.
For a team that has playoff aspirations, the loss of MacKinnon could be catastrophic. The 22-year old currently sits second in the NHL with 61 points and has been the catalyst for the team. Along with Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, the team’s top line has been responsible for nearly 40% of goals scored by the Avalanche this year.
After going an incredible 10-0-0 run, the Avalanche have now lost three straight games. MacKinnon’s absence from the lineup is a major setback for a team that was looking to stay competitive in the Western Conference playoff race.