We finally have an update on the knee injury that caused Matt Duchene to leave last night’s game against Phoenix in the first period. After undergoing an MRI today, the Avalanche have announced that the young star will miss at least a month with an injury to his right knee. All the sudden, last night’s 3-2 victory against the Coyotes seems like a cheap parting gift in comparison to the long-term implications of Duchene’s injury.
The news comes at a critical time for the Avalanche. Despite winning six of their last seven games, the Avalanche are still sitting in the 10th spot in the Western Conference with a couple of teams breathing down their neck. They obviously need to keep their foot on the pedal to stay in the mix for one of the last playoff spots in the West. A month-long dry spell in the win column would doom any team competing for the playoffs.
Unfortunately for Colorado, Duchene is one of the players they can least afford to lose. The 20-year-old center is leading the Avalanche in goals (12) and he’s second on the team in scoring. Losing one of their best scorers has to be one of the worst things for the team that is 24th in the league in scoring.
Now it’s time for guys like Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk to pick up the slack as the Avs try to keep their head above water to start the New Year.
Damon Severson was a healthy scratch on Saturday.
It’s the last game he wants to miss this season.
“I had a good chat with a few people and just pretty much said, ‘I want to be in the next 80 games,’” Severson said, per The Record. “I sat out my game and that’s all I want to be out for for the year.”
Severson is one of the Devils’ most important young players. But this is also the 21-year-old defenseman’s sophomore season, and that’s when slumps can occur.
Hence, the early message he was sent by the coaching staff.
Severson is expected to be back in the lineup tonight when New Jersey hosts Nashville.
“He doesn’t have to be perfect,” coach John Hynes told reporters. “We’d just like to see him have a high compete level. We know he’s ready to go. We had a couple of good meetings with him. He’s in a good spot mentally. I know he’s ready to roll.”
Jake Virtanen, the sixth overall pick in the 2014 draft, will make his NHL debut tonight when his Canucks meet the Kings in Los Angeles.
The 19-year-old winger was a healthy scratch for Vancouver’s first three games of the regular season. He had two goals and two assists in six preseason games.
“I can’t wait,” he told reporters. “My energy is high. I want to get a couple of hits on my first shift.”
Big and physical with goal-scoring ability, the consensus is that Virtanen will remain in the NHL and not be returned to junior after he’s played nine games. That consensus could always change based on his play, of course.
The Canucks — who won last night in Anaheim — did not have a full skate this morning, so it’s unclear who will come out of the lineup. The best guess is rookie Jared McCann, who’s been playing third-line center.
If McCann does come out, the Canucks could move Brandon Sutter to third-line center and Virtanen could take Sutter’s spot on the first line with the Sedin twins. Or, there could be more extensive line juggling.