Colorado Avalanche’s winger will miss “weeks” with injury
Avalanche Suffer Blow as Lehkonen Faces Extended Absence Due to Injury
In a significant setback for the Colorado Avalanche, head coach Jared Bednar revealed that winger Artturi Lehkonen will be sidelined for “weeks” due to an injury sustained during Thursday’s game against the Seattle Kraken. This article delves into the details of Lehkonen’s injury, the impact on the team, and the adjustments made to the lineup in his absence.
Lehkonen’s Injury and Recovery
The 28-year-old winger suffered the injury in a collision with Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, resulting in a head-first crash into the boards. Despite initial concerns, Lehkonen’s hospitalization was precautionary, and subsequent statements from the Avalanche confirmed his alertness, responsiveness, and full mobility. Bednar clarified that the injury was not to the head but did not provide specifics on the nature of the setback.
Productive Start to the Season
Lehkonen had been a key contributor to the Avalanche’s early-season success, tallying three goals and five assists in 12 games. Since joining the team in 2022, he had showcased a remarkable level of production, maintaining a 60-point pace. Additionally, his impact extended beyond scoring, as he ranked among the league’s top play-driving forwards with a 53.92% 5v5 expected goal share.
Lehkonen’s Journey to the Avalanche
A former second-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens, Lehkonen spent six seasons with the Habs before being traded to the Avalanche at the 2022 deadline. His tenure with the team culminated in a Stanley Cup victory that season, leading to a five-year contract with a $4.5 million cap hit.
Lineup Adjustments in Lehkonen’s Absence
As the Avalanche cope with Lehkonen’s absence, Valeri Nichushkin and Ryan Johansen are set to assume increased responsibilities in his spot on the top line alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. However, the notable inclusion of Jonathan Drouin in Lehkonen’s place adds an intriguing dynamic to the lineup. Heading into the game against the St. Louis Blues, this line boasts a 47.57% expected goal share and has outscored opponents 3-1 in 77:17 of ice time this season.
Additional Injury Concerns for Avalanche
The challenges for the Avalanche extend beyond Lehkonen, as Andrew Cogliano is set to miss the upcoming game against the Blues due to an undisclosed injury. Described as day-to-day, Cogliano’s absence adds further complexity to Bednar’s lineup decisions.
Conclusion: Navigating Challenges on the Ice
As the Avalanche confront the absence of Lehkonen and Cogliano, Coach Bednar faces the task of reshaping the lineup to maintain the team’s competitive edge. The resilience of the Avalanche will be put to the test, with the hope that Lehkonen’s recovery is swift, allowing him to rejoin the team on the quest for success in the 2023 NHL season.