The slumping Colorado Avalanche got more bad news on Wednesday, as head coach Patrick Roy announced Brad Stuart would be out a “couple weeks” with a hamstring injury.
Stuart, who turns 35 on Thursday, left yesterday’s loss to Vancouver after playing just four shifts in the second period. The veteran blueliner had been averaging close to 20 minutes per game this season and had appeared in all 14 contests prior to getting hurt, leading the team in shorthanded TOI at 3:39 per game.
(Colorado currently has the NHL’s best penalty kill, at 93 percent.)
According to the Denver Post, the Avs won’t make any immediate call-ups to replace Stuart on the active roster, meaning they’ll roll with six defensemen: Tyson Barrie, Nate Guenin, Jan Hejda, Nick Holden, Erik Johnson and Zach Redmond.
The club’s eighth blueliner, Ryan Wilson, is out 2-3 weeks with a shoulder injury.
After watching his Colorado Avalanche limp through Thursday’s 5-0 loss against the Minnesota Wild, head coach Patrick Roy isn’t just going to maintain the status quo in the hopes that everything will work out in their rematch on Saturday.
Roy has decided to scratch defenseman Nate Guenin, who was minus-one in 14:49 minutes of ice time, in favor of Ryan Wilson. He’s also reversed some of the changes he made in response to the Avalanche’s offensive struggles in the preseason, per the Denver Post.
Specifically, Ryan O’Reilly will shift back to the left wing while Nathan MacKinnon will serve as a center. Jarome Iginla and Matt Duchene will join O’Reilly on the top line and MacKinnon will skate with Alex Tanguay and Gabe Landeskog.
Roy classified thinks these changes will serve as a “wake-up call” as he doesn’t believe the lines’ struggles were chemistry related.
The Avalanche won the Central Division last season, but they still have a lot to prove given how vulnerable they looked from an advanced statistics perspective in 2013-14.
Can we talk about how bad the Avs were last night?
During the 2011-12 season, Stefan Elliott made a name for himself as a 21-year-old with the Colorado Avalanche.
Elliott had offensive abilities from the blue line (four goals and 13 points in 39 games) and seemingly had upside that left them thinking they might have something special. Two seasons later, and just 19 NHL games since then, like the title of the post says, he’ll be looking to make the leap in 2014-15.
What’s hurt Elliott, now 23, is seeing other young defenseman seizing the opportunity when called up. Tyson Barrie, Ryan Wilson and Nick Holden are looking more like sure things to stay on Colorado’s blue line, and only Barrie is his equal in age. While Wilson and Holden are four years older, the Avs’ lack of defensive strength was part of their undoing last season.
With defensemen being counted on to carry and possess the puck more and more in today’s game, Elliott’s work during his rookie season showed he can do just that. As Behind The Net tabulated, his possession numbers were strong over those 39 games in 2011-12. In 18 games the following year, he was equally effective.
Last season, however, he played just one game for the Avs. While he had a bad possession night, he scored a goal in the final regular-season game of the year.
Colorado weren’t exactly darlings of advanced metrics, but if Elliott is given a bit more of a look, he might stand a chance to produce better than guys like Wilson or defensive-defensemen like Nate Guenin and Jan Hejda. Considering how poor the Avs were on defense, giving Elliott a shot to show he’s worth it might be Patrick Roy’s best move.