EDMONTON, Alberta — With just one victory separating the Avalanche from a Stanley Cup Final berth, injuries have begun to mount.
Colorado is set to take on the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place in a Game 4 battle that could see it complete its second sweep of the postseason and secure the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl as the Western Conference champions. But the Avs will have to do it without second-line center Nazem Kadri.
Kadri was injured after taking a vicious hit from Evander Kane early in Game 3, sending him into the boards and out of the game. Kane received a five-minute major for boarding but was not ejected. He finished the game before receiving a one-game suspension, keeping him out of Monday’s matchup.
Kadri was sent back to Denver for further evaluation on an unconfirmed broken right thumb. If surgery is required, he could miss the rest of the postseason.
“When we saw him before he left he was in good spirits, really positive,” Jack Johnson said of Kadri. “He’s going to do everything in his power to get back during this run.”
Without Kadri, head coach Jared Bednar will have some decisions to make. And some of those could be contingent on the health of a couple of forwards that missed Saturday’s game with an injury.
Bednar would not share any information on the availability of anyone ahead of Game 4.
Once a staple of the Avs’ top-six, Andre Burakovsky could be called upon to step back onto the second line — assuming he’s healthy. Burakovsky was a full participant in morning skate, where Colorado mostly worked on special teams drills. He sported a burgundy jersey, which signified second power-play duties, meaning he is likely an option.
If Burakovsky returns, Bednar could slot him as a direct replacement for Kadri, shifting Mikko Rantanen to the center position flanked by Artturi Lehkonen and Burakovsky.
Also absent from Game 3, Nicolas Aube-Kubel would be an easy addition to the third line if he’s able to return. He was replaced by Nico Sturm in his absence but could push Sturm back out of the lineup. Aube-Kubel could slot in on J.T. Compher’s wing, with young forward Alex Newhook completing a line that has already seen time together during the playoffs.
Game 4 between the Avs and Oilers is tonight! @runwriteAarif has you covered with news and notes ahead of Game 4 🏒
— milehighsports (@MileHighSports) June 6, 2022
A full participant in morning skate, Darcy Kuemper has not played since the early stages of Game 1 of the Western Conference final. If healthy, Kuemper could find himself assuming backup duties on the bench for the first time in the playoffs while the Avs continue to ride a red-hot Pavel Francouz.
Kuemper’s health is crucial in giving Colorado another option when, or if, Francouz struggles.
Colorado has regularly used both netminders throughout the playoffs because of injuries to Kuemper. Through the first 11 wins, Francouz has five with Kuemper winning six.
Aarif Deen is our Colorado Avalanche beat reporter. He covers Avs games live from Ball Arena and attends practices, media availabilities and other events pertaining to the Avs on the daily beat. He is also a co-host of Hockey Mountain High: Your go-to Avalanche Podcast. Deen joined Mile High Sports upon completion of his bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s in business administration from the University of Michigan – Dearborn. Before Mile High Sports, Deen worked for the Michigan Wolverines Athletics Department as the assistant sports information director.