The Colorado Avalanche will not have superstar forward Nathan MacKinnon when they play the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night. MacKinnon has returned to Denver to be further evaluated for an upper-body injury that may have happened in a fight over the weekend against the Minnesota Wild.
Head coach Jared Bednar told the Denver media on Tuesday that concern for MacKinnon’s injury is “high” and that it is “possibly stemming” from his fight with Matthew Dumba.
The fight happened early in the third period after Dumba delivered a big hit at the Minnesota blue line. MacKinnon immediately stepped in to challenge him.
The fact that Bednar is already admitting that concern is “high” for the injury is not exactly a promising development. It could mean an extended absence for one of the Avalanche’s best players.
Colorado is obviously in no danger of missing the playoffs or losing its hold on the top of the Central Division, but injuries have been mounting for this team all season. Colorado is already playing without team captain Gabriel Landeskog and defenseman Samuel Girard at the moment, while several other top players have missed extensive time this season due to injury at various points. That makes their league-best record even more impressive.
Until there is a more definitive timetable on MacKinnon’s absence it is difficult to analyze the situation any further, other than to say this is why teams should always cringe when their best players decide to fight. Especially in what was, for all intents and purposes, a pretty meaningless game for the Avalanche with the start of the playoffs a month away.