DENVER (AP) – Nathan MacKinnon recently broke his nose and still sped back to the ice. No way to do that with a fractured foot, though.
The Colorado Avalanche will be without their fast-moving forward for at least six weeks after an MRI revealed the break, coach Patrick Roy confirmed Friday.
More than likely, MacKinnon’s season is finished. Unless, of course, the Avalanche rally over the final few weeks to make it into the postseason. They’re currently out of the last playoff spot in the Western Conference by nine points.
The talented teenager has 14 goals and 24 assists in 64 games during his sophomore season. He had 63 points a year ago when he was the league’s rookie of the year.
“Obviously, it’s never good news when you’re losing a player like Nate, especially at a key moment in our season,” Roy told reporters after practice.
Roy said MacKinnon got hit with a shot against Tampa Bay on Feb. 22 during a game in which he recorded his first NHL hat trick. The X-rays were negative.
MacKinnon took another shot against Pittsburgh on Wednesday and arrived at practice the next day bothered by the foot. The fracture showed up on an MRI.
It’s been a tumultuous past few days for the 19-year-old MacKinnon. He broke his nose on a hit in a game against Minnesota last Saturday, forcing him to wear a longer shield in a win over the Penguins. He scored a goal when the puck bounced off his skate in that contest.
MacKinnon also is looking for a new place to live after Colorado traded Maxime Talbot to Boston at the trade deadline. MacKinnon was staying with the Talbot family this season.
In MacKinnon’s absence, Roy said he plans to pair Cody McLeod with Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog on one line. Joey Hishon will center another line that also includes Daniel Briere and Marc-Andre Cliche.
Defenseman Erik Johnson skated after practice Friday and could be nearing a return from a knee injury that’s kept him out since mid-January.
The Avalanche play in Columbus on Saturday and then travel to Minnesota the following day. Things got pretty physical when the Wild beat the Avalanche last weekend. So much that Landeskog and McLeod were both fined by the league for their actions in the waning seconds.
Landeskog threw a punch at Wild forward Mikko Koivu as both players headed to their benches with 3.3 seconds remaining. McLeod entered the game with 8.1 seconds left for the purpose of starting an altercation, the league said.
There’s acrimony between these two teams dating back to a first-round playoff series a year ago, when defenseman Tyson Barrie was knocked out in Game 3 following a knee-to-knee hit from Matt Cooke, who drew a seven-game suspension. The Wild won the series with an OT goal in Game 7 at Pepsi Center.
“We’re going there to win a hockey game,” Roy said. “Revenge, or whatever, it’s not part of what we’re doing. If we’re talking about revenge, we would’ve done something way before that, when they hurt Barrie. To me, just be ready for them and play a strong game.
“To me, garbage is what Cooke did to Barrie, not what McLeod did at the game.”
By PAT GRAHAM, AP Sports Writer
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