The Colorado Avalanche had a gap in their season schedule, but that was planned. The Ottawa Senators had an unexpected break and are finally ready to resume playing.
Ottawa had three games postponed because of a high number of COVID-19 cases, but eight players and associate coach Jack Capuano were activated from the protocol list Saturday in time for Monday’s game at Colorado.
The players that were activated off the list are Connor Brown, Josh Brown, Alex Formenton, Dylan Gambrell, Nick Holden, Victor Mete, Matt Murray and Austin Watson.
The Senators, who as a team are 100 percent vaccinated, were back at practice on Saturday and are set to play their first game since Nov. 14, a 4-0 loss to Calgary.
“We’re just lucky that no one had it really, really bad or no severe things have happened,” coach D.J. Smith said after Saturday’s practice. “During this time, we’re just going to move forward and continue to get better every day. There’s no point in thinking about the negative stuff. We just want to get back to playing hockey.”
Ottawa has gone 2-9-1 since winning two of its first three games of the season and face an Avalanche team on a four-game winning streak and a scoring tear. The Senators were shut out in their pass two losses, and in between beat Pittsburgh 6-3.
Monday is the start of a four-game road trip through the Western Conference.
Colorado has been scoring seemingly at will in its four wins despite all of them coming after star Nathan MacKinnon was sidelined with a lower-body injury. The Avalanche have racked up 24 goals in the wins, including twice scoring seven goals.
“Probably shows the depth of our team and how much better we’ll be when we get Nate back,” defenseman Erik Johnson said after the 7-3 win over Seattle on Friday night. “We’re getting contributions throughout the lineup and when we get Nate back it will be a huge boost for us.”
Colorado coach Jared Bednar said MacKinnon, who was skating Sunday, would be on the road trip that starts Dec. 1, essentially ruling him out for the next four games. Rookie defenseman Bo Byram has been in the concussion protocol and missed the last three games but was also skating Sunday.
He is unlikely to play Monday.
The Avalanche’s winning streak is their longest of the season, and in the midst of it the team extended Bednar’s contract for two more seasons. Bednar can celebrate the extension by tying Bob Hartley for the most wins by a Colorado coach if the Avalanche beat the Senators.
Bednar was hired just before the 2016-17 season and has 192 wins in five-plus seasons. Though the team only won 22 games his first season, Colorado has developed into a contender and won the President’s Trophy last season.
“He’s a great coach. The players have done a tremendous job under him,” team vice president and general manager Joe Sakic said Friday night. “He’s the right guy to get us to the next level.”
–Field Level Media