AVALANCHE

Maybe the Avs best player thus far, Nichushkin’s status still questionable

Nov 3, 2022, 12:26 PM
Valeri Nichushkin...
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

The Avalanche are off to a bit of a slow start defending their Stanley Cup championship.

And while it’s nothing to panic about, at 4-4-1 the season hasn’t exactly gotten off to a raucous start.

Hopefully, that changes on Friday and Saturday when Colorado is finally back in action. The reason for the long break is a logical one, as the team is currently in Finland. They’re set to play the Blue Jackets twice as part of the NHL’s Global Series.

But will forward Valeri Nichushkin be back on the ice? He’s missed the last two games, both losses, with a “lower-body injury.” Hockey head coaches are rarely going to tell you what’s actually going on with a player, but this update from head coach Jared Bednar on Thursday wasn’t particularly encouraging.

Hopeful is a good thing, but it would have been much more encouraging to hear Bednar say he’s good to go. A setback might have happened. In just seven games, Nichushkin has seven goals and 12 points. The goals lead the Avs, the points are tied with superstar Nathan Mackinnon, who’s played all nine contests for Colorado.

With captain Gabriel Landeskog out for at least another couple of months after knee surgery, and Nazem Kadri and Andre Burakovsky in different sweaters, the Avs desperately need Nichushkin back. In one of the games he missed against the Devils, they lost 1-0. A shutout is shocking for this high-powered offense.

Again, nine points through nine games isn’t the end of the world. The Avalanche have plenty of time to string together a bunch of wins. But Nichushkin will help that in a big way, and right now, his return still feels iffy.

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Maybe the Avs best player thus far, Nichushkin’s status still questionable