The Colorado Avalanche aren’t worried about reaching the postseason, but there is some concern what the lineup will be when the playoffs start.
The Central Division leaders have dealt with injuries all season, but two members of the top line are sidelined and there’s a chance they might miss the start of the postseason.
Short-handed Colorado will play host to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
If the Avalanche play as they did Tuesday night, they can survive — at least for a while — without Gabriel Landeskog (knee) and Nathan MacKinnon (upper body). The 2-1 road win over the Calgary Flames gave Colorado 100 points for the season.
MacKinnon might not be as badly hurt as was first feared. He was sent home from the road trip before the Tuesday game for further examination and was skating Wednesday at the team’s practice facility.
The Sharks are coming off a 5-2 road loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night as they make the quick turnaround to play in Colorado. It is the last of three meetings between the teams this season, with Colorado having won the first two matchups, 6-2 in Denver on Nov. 13 and 5-3 in San Jose on March 18.
San Jose got Logan Couture back Wednesday after a one-game absence caused by an upper-body injury. Sharks winger Jonah Gadjovich did not play at Arizona due to an undisclosed ailment, and he is expected to miss three games.
San Jose reached the Western Conference finals in 2019 but have since become a team in transition. The Sharks, with 66 points, are likely to miss the postseason for the third straight year. Still, they aren’t limping to the finish line this season.
San Jose had won three of its last four before the loss at the Coyotes and now has an opportunity to slow down the top team in the NHL on Thursday. The Sharks are focused on winning even without the motivation of playing into May and beyond.
“I think that we had multiple chances,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said after the Wednesday defeat. “The difference of the game was really that they pounced on our mistakes and could capitalize, and we couldn’t.”
San Jose’s Timo Meier isn’t slowing down. The 25-year-old winger has five goals in his past five games and 30 for the season, matching his career high.
“Obviously, I love scoring goals, that’s no secret. But for me, the main focus is to win games,” he said. “My (personal) goals are with the team. I try to be the best player I can be for the team and contribute in that way.”
The Avalanche have been getting contributions throughout the lineup and have shown they can win with big offensive nights and low-scoring games. The Flames threw 45 shots on Darcy Kuemper on Tuesday night but only got one by him — on a five-on-three power play.
“I’m proud of our group to this point in the season,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “Heightened sense of urgency, commitment, purpose, buy-in from our group, I think it says everything. We’re there for a reason and you got to give the guys credit — the maturity and growth of our team over the last couple of years.”
–Field Level Media