One step forward, two steps back.
Such is the motto for the Colorado Avalanche this season. Ever since the puck dropped for Opening Night back against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Avs have not had a healthy lineup. As is commonplace now, let’s go over our most recent injury updates and predicted returns by our own Jackie Kay.
Nichushkin was injured against the Nashville Predators on December 23. He seems to have reaggravated his lower-body injury which stems back to last year’s Stanley Cup run and the surgery he received back in November. It appears as if he may have been rushed back, which is far from ideal for anybody in the organization.
Here’s the clip where I said the Nichushkin return may have been rushed. I feel bad that I may have been right in this instance, but I hope it is not as bad as it may seem #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/UFWuaDKb4Q— Evan Liu (@LLou1e) December 24, 2022
Being said, Nichushkin was given a week-to-week evaluation on what seems to be a short-term basis. While he hasn’t hit the ice again yet, he could be eyeing a return in early January if it all works out.
Kaut was also hurt in the game against the Preds last week, going back with Nichushkin and on the IR. For Kaut, it is a shame since he was already in to replace other injured names in the lineup but now he joins them.
However, a benefit for Kaut is it seems as if he’ll sit on the sidelines for only a week. The next interesting point is if any of the other names on this list return to send him back down to the Colorado Eagles, or if he will stick around to continue to fill the gaps.
Francouz had just recovered from flu-like symptoms to return backing up Alexandar Georgiev. When the news was announced he’d be out week-to-week, it sent a different message other than the sickness settling back into his system.
Pavel Francouz has a lower-body injury, which is why he's not traveling to Arizona, per a team spokesperson.— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) December 27, 2022
MacKinnon’s news might just be the best on this list: he is back to skating and looking close to returning. After he got hurt against the Philadelphia Flyers back in early December, the Avs have missed him dearly. His original timeline was a month, expecting a return at the beginning of January. Now, he could return as soon as this week to close out the year against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Bednar via @AltitudeSR on if he’s surprised that MacK is close:— Mile High Hockey Lab (@MHH_LAB) December 27, 2022
“No. You give Mack a timeline and he’s gonna beat it. That’s just who he is.”#GoAvsGo
From the best news to some of the worst news on this list, Helm continues to have setbacks. He hasn’t played a game all year long, and despite looking as if he’d be getting close to a return it hasn’t happened.
At his age and contract status, not only could this injury keep him from playing very few or no games for the Avs, it could cost him his career. It would be a real shame if it were to happen, but at least if it does he can say he ended his career as a Stanley Cup champion.
The bad news train rolls on - this time with the young Byram. The good news from this: his injury is a lower-body injury, not an upper-body one. Therefore, there is no concussion to worry about.
In his case, however, Byram has had his own setbacks. He had been on the ice, skating, and looking close to a return a few weeks ago. Now, he has not hit the ice in some time. So what gives? Hopefully, some more rest including the long holiday break will give Byram a chance to aim at a return sometime later in January.
Manson’s injury back in early December was aimed to be about a month of recovery. However, he has also not been on the ice and has been one of the quiet but key pieces missing from the defense. The thinking is he’ll also return sometime in January.
Finally, oh captain my captain. Landeskog is crucial to this team, hence why his absence from the team all year long similar to Helm is abundantly clear. Landeskog has continued to do some light work both on and off the ice as he continues to get closer to game action.
However, it does not mean he is very close to returning. The hope is the captain will be able to join the team in late January/early February. While his return is the longest-confirmed recovery out of this list, everybody will be ready for him to come back just as the games matter more and more at the end of the year.