Avs set to face Canucks without Nathan MacKinnon

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The Colorado Avalanche were hoping to have a full complement of players after injuries, suspensions and illness kept the lineup from being together from the start of the season.

That won’t happen soon with the announcement that Nathan MacKinnon is going to miss three weeks with a lower-body injury.

MacKinnon’s absence comes just as Cale Makar and Valeri Nichushkin return from injuries for Thursday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks. Makar missed two games and Nichushkin hasn’t played since opening night, and it looked like for the first time this season the Avalanche would have everyone available.

Then MacKinnon missed practice Tuesday and then coach Jared Bednar told the media the star center is out of action.

At different points through the first 10 games Colorado has been without its entire top line, two other top-six forwards and more than half of the defensive corps. It has contributed to a 4-5-1 start for a team that has title aspirations.

The Avalanche might also be without defenseman Sam Girard, who left Wednesday’s practice with an apparent injury.

“The injuries that we’ve gotten and the guys that are missing time are our key guys, and sometimes that’s the way it goes,” Bednar said. “We just have to work through it, work out of it, and it’s just another little obstacle in our way. Hopefully, Nate can get back and get healthy and come out and play hungry like he always has and make a huge impact. But for now, we’re going to do without him.”

J.T. Compher will move up to the top line between Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, while rookie Alex Newhook was recalled from the minors.

Vancouver is coming off a 3-2 overtime loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night, and has earned at least a point in three of its past four games, but went 2-4-1 in its just-completed seven-game homestand. Now the Canucks begin a three-game road swing.

One area were Vancouver has struggled is special teams. The Canucks have converted just 17.7 percent of their power-play chances and they are last in the league in killing off power plays at 63.9 percent.

Vancouver was 1-for-4 on the power play against the Ducks on Monday night.

“Obviously if our special teams were better, we’d have a lot better record right now,” coach Travis Green said. “You can’t go back and change things. You’ve got to be honest and look at all areas of your game and try to improve all areas of your game still. And that’s what we’ll try to do. We’ll get back at it.”

The Canucks sent center Travis Hamonic to their AHL affiliate and recalled Jack Rathbone to fill his spot on the roster. Hamonic is not fully vaccinated for COVID-19, with Green saying, “He’ll be double vaccinated soon.” Had Hamonic been on the three-game swing through the U.S. he would have to quarantine for two weeks upon returning to Canada.

The Canucks also placed defenseman Luke Schenn on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury. Schenn appeared to injure his right knee against Nashville on Friday night.

–Field Level Media

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