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With Mikko Rantanen out "week to week", Avs will look to improved depth to pick up slack

Evan Rawal Avatar
October 23, 2019

 

The news could have been worse. Much worse.

Jared Bednar announced on Wednesday afternoon that Mikko Rantanen will be “week to week” with a lower-body injury. While that’s not the news any Avs fan wanted to hear, there did seem to be a sense of optimism around the Avs that it’s not as bad as they originally may have feared.

“We’ll just see how he progresses over the next few days,” Bednar said after practice, delivering the bad news to the media. “I can tell you I don’t think it’s going to be a four to six week injury. We’re hoping he’s going to be back sooner than that.”

Rantanen wasn’t the only guy missing from practice on Wednesday. Forwards J.T. Compher, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and defenseman Ian Cole also did not skate, but Bednar announced those were just maintenance days. With those guys missing, there were no set lines for practice, and the Avs have not decided who they want to fill that top line role.

“I haven’t made that decision,” Bednar said. “We may see some movement in that position just to see who we like. It’s not a position a lot of guys can do. We’ve used Compher in that position in the past and on occasions he’s done a nice job. Donskoi is obviously an option. I’d like to leave the lines the same with some of the success we’ve been having. Certainly when you lose a guy like Mikko some things have to shuffle.”

Unfortunately, not having Rantanen in the lineup is something the Avs have had to adjust to in the past. He missed the final eight games of last season due to injury before returning in the playoffs, and the Avs made the adjustments needed to lock down a playoff spot. Still, it’s not easy losing a player the caliber of Rantanen.

“It sucks,” Nathan MacKinnon said after practice. “He’s one of the best players in the NHL. When you lose one of the best players in the NHL, it’s tough. He got hurt last year and we found a way to get some wins. Mikko’s a freak, he’ll be back I’m sure sooner than later.”

The Avs superstar feels confident that the Avs will be able to step up without his star winger because of the additions they made this summer.

“We’re way deeper than we were last year,” he said on Wednesday. “We didn’t have Kadri, Donskoi, and Burkovksy, they’ve had a great road trip and scored some big goals for us.”

We’ll know more after Thursday’s practice on what Bednar plans to do with the lines to replace Rantanen, but the feeling on Wednesday was that it could have been a lot worse.

News and Notes from Practice

  • The Avs will be changing up their defensive pairings. Cale Makar and Nikita Zadorov, who have spent all year together, will be separated, as they’ve had struggles on the ice together. Bednar wants Makar to play with a veteran who is more vocal, and indicated Ian Cole would be the ideal fit there. Expect their top pair of Samuel Girard and Erik Johnson to remain the same.
  • Makar stayed on the ice well after practice working with skills coach Shawn Allard shooting a puck through a tire. The Avs want him to shoot the puck more, but he’s struggled to get his shot through traffic and that seemed to be the goal of the drill.
  • With a smaller group available to practice, the Avs spent most of the day working on 1 on 1 and 2 on 1 rushes, before separating out the forwards and defensemen to do work on their own. It was a shorter practice overall, running only about 40 minutes.
  • The Avs will practice again on Thursday before heading to Vegas for their game on Friday against the Golden Knights.

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