Sunday, April 01, 2018

Avalanche Injury Situation Makes Playoff Push Uphill

The Colorado Avalanche headed into Sunday's game in the first spot, just outside of the Western Conference wild card slots, tied in points with St. Louis, but losing out on a key tie-breaker and now they will have to play their last four games, including Sunday's game in Anaheim, without their number one goalie Semyon Varlamov and their number two defenseman Erik Johnson.  Both players have been ruled out of the last week of the regular season and more, if the Avalanche can somehow find a way into the playoffs.

The word is that Varlamov's season is now done, which may also include the whole of the playoffs, even if the Avalanche clinch and go on a run, but his regular season is definitely over.  Varlamov finishes with 24 wins and 52 points in 51 appearances this season, a year that was hampered with injury throughout, but he was certainly good enough, when called upon, especially to keep this Avalanche team in the playoff race.

Johnson has also had an injury-plagued campaign, missing time throughout the season and only playing in 62 games, scoring 9 goals and 25 points.  He was a steady fixture on the blueline, carrying a +3 plus/minus rating on a wide open, skating team, so that goes to show how much of a rock he was this past year.  His prognosis is 6-to-8 weeks with a lower-body injury and the Avalanche would have to go a long ways for the chance of Johnson to come back.

With both of these players out, it does seem like a very uphill battle for the Avalanche to fight to get into the playoffs, but the job in net will be left to Jonathan Bernier and Andrew Hammond down the stretch.

What does that mean in the regular season pool?  Not much, in terms of the money.  Varlamov belongs to Stacey C.'s 22nd place team and Grant's 9th place team has Johnson.  Now, if the Avalanche were to somehow make the playoffs, both players do feature on the sheet, so beware!

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