Avs rule out Duchene, MacKinnon for next two games — including Saturday’s big one versus Wild

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The race for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference just got more interesting.

The Colorado Avalanche, currently one point up on Minnesota for the final spot, have two big games on the horizon — Thursday against Philly, and Saturday against Wild.

And for those next two games, the Avs will be without their two top scorers.

Matt Duchene, who leads with 56 points, and Nathan MacKinnon, who sits second with 52, are out with knee injuries for at least the next two contests, head coach Patrick Roy confirmed on Tuesday.

More, from the Avs website:

Roy said the statuses of Duchene and MacKinnon would be reevaluated on Sunday before the team’s flight to Nashville for the start of a two-game road trip. Colorado plays at the Predators on Monday and the St. Louis Blues next Tuesday.

The 26-year-old Duchene got hurt in Wednesday’s game at Vancouver, while the 20-year-old MacKinnon injured himself in the third period of Friday’s contest at Calgary. The Avalanche won all three games of its Western Canada swing that concluded on Sunday in Edmonton.

Now, remember the “interesting” part? Here’s where it gets interesting.

With Duchene and MacKinnon hurt, the Avs have recalled ’15 first-rounder Mikko Rantanen from AHL San Antonio.

Rantanen, 19, has been tearing up the American League this year. He has 52 points in 44 games, was named to the league’s annual All-Star Game, leads all AHL rookies in scoring and recently set a new San Antoino franchise record for points and assists by a first-year player.

The catch, of course, is that Rantanen was sent down to the AHL earlier this year after playing six NHL contests. He participated in his seventh in Sunday’s win over Edmonton, meaning he’s got two more before he hits lucky No. 9 — at which time the Avs have to decide whether he’ll play No. 10, and “burn” the first year of his entry-level deal, or be sent back to San Antonio.

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