The Colorado Avalanche’s forward depth is about to be put to the test.
Already playing without Mikko Rantanen, the Avalanche announced on Tuesday that another key part of their feared top-line is going to be sidelined indefinitely. Gabriel Landeskog will not play in Tuesday’s game against the Florida Panthers and will be out “indefinitely” according to the team as he recovers from an undisclosed lower-body injury.
He played 20 minutes in the Avalanche’s 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, recording four shots on goal and finishing as a minus-2.
For the past two years the trio of Nathan MacKinnon, Rantanen, and Landeskog has been one of the most dominant lines in the league and has at times single-handedly carried the Avalanche. Since the start of the 2017-18 season they have played more than 1,600 minutes of 5-on-5 hockey together as a trio, outscoring teams by a 97-61 margin during those minutes and completely dictating the pace of the game.
In recent years being without two of them would have probably been enough to sink the Avalanche’s chances due to their lack of depth, but thanks to the offseason additions of Nazem Kadri, Joonas Donskoi, and Andre Burakovsky they actually have some solid secondary scoring options and are not quite as dependent on their big three.
They also still have MacKinnon — their best player — and he should still be able to make an impact, even without his two regular wingers.
The Avalanche entered the season as one of the top favorites in the Western Conference and have been one of the league’s best teams.
Landeskog’s injury is not the only significant one around the NHL on Tuesday.
Mika Zibanejad will not play for Rangers on Tuesday
Offense has been a struggle for the New York Rangers so far this season and this is not going to help things.
They are expected to be without No. 1 center Mika Zibanejad on Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He played just six minutes against the Boston Bruins in the Rangers’ most recent game and is considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
He is the Rangers’ top point-producer this season with 11 points in nine games, though he has cooled off considerably after a fast start in the team’s first two games.
The team has recalled Filip Chytil from the American Hockey League and he is expected to play alongside Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich.
On the other side of that game, Lightning coach Jon Cooper said forwards Brayden Point and Anthony Cirelli are both game-time decisions but that he does not expect either issue to be long-term (via Lightning analyst Caley Chelios).
Sidney Crosby will play for Penguins
The Pittsburgh Penguins had a little bit of a scare on Saturday night when captain Sidney Crosby was hit in the side of the face by a slap shot, briefly leaving the game before returning.
Crosby is expected to play for the Penguins on Tuesday night against the Flyers but may wear a protective shield over his jaw. He skated with it in practice but is unsure if he wants to wear it during the game due to limited vision. The Penguins are finally starting to get healthy and could get defenseman Brian Dumoulin and winger Alex Galchenyuk back in the lineup for Tuesday against the Flyers.
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.