Players are back on the ice.
As a team, this time. Not in similarly-colored jerseys playing 3-on-3 hockey which we saw this past weekend at a less-than-memorable NHL All-Star Game.
While the Avs had Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar representing the ‘A’ at the events, they fell in the final of the game to the Atlantic Division. And they didn’t have their Colorado Avalanche teammates with them to win out in the end.
Luckily, they’ll have the support of their teammates starting Tuesday evening against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Plus, some names will be coming off of the injured list.
Sunday at the team’s practice Bowen Byram confirmed he would be returning to the lineup from injury for the first time in over three months. His last appearance came in the NHL Global Series in Tampere, Finland against the Columbus Blue Jackets on November 4.
Sounds like Byram is playing Tuesday, as he spoke to the media.— Evan Rawal (@evanrawal) February 5, 2023
On his injury, he laughed and said “I was just happy it wasn’t my head.”
Byram’s return will be instrumental and at just the time the Avs need him heading into the home stretch of the season. His lower-body injury has now healed, and as he stated to the media, at least it wasn’t his head.
However, his defensive partner Josh Manson continued skating but remains out for the time being. It sounds as if the plan for Manson is a “we’ll wait and see” sort of affair. It hasn’t been decided yet if he will travel with the team on the upcoming three-game road trip. If he does, we’ll see if there’s any likelihood of playing in the games or if he just continues to skate with the team. Manson’s last game came against the Buffalo Sabres on December 1.
While he is far from a return, Gabriel Landeskog seems to continue his progression. It was announced he is still on track to return to the ice on March 15. It’s tentative he’ll return to Denver fairly soon and keep chipping away to start playing once again. Of course, he still has not featured in a single game all year for the Avs.
However, to end this piece with some good news, the train will roll out of the station. Valeri Nichushkin is also slated to return with Byram against the Penguins on Tuesday from his upper-body injury. His last game was the most recent of the three on this list, playing last against the Washington Capitals on January 24.
His return to the lineup will also create some momentum and offensive prowess the Avs were missing in their last few games before the break, especially when it came to forechecking and pressuring the opponents into making mistakes. The Avs are much better when he is in the lineup, and the hope is the trend will continue starting Tuesday night.
Avs with Val Nichushkin in the lineup this season: 15-3-2— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 27, 2023
Avs without Val Nichushkin in the lineup this season: 11-15-1
Colorado is getting there. Soon enough Avs faithful. Soon enough.