Boy, that 7-3 win for the Avalanche over the Blackhawks on Saturday sure was fun, especially after Colorado thumped Chicago 5-2 the night before in their building.
And what a return for Avs all-star Mikko Rantanen, who put up a goal and three assists in his return from an ankle injury in late October that, quite frankly, still turns the stomach.
But the star’s return to the lineup might not come up all roses, after all. Rantanen did not play the third period in the blowout win because he “tweaked his leg a little bit a couple of times and started to get tired.”
“I didn’t see a reason to bring him out for the third in a 7-2 game, so he’ll be ready to go,” said head coach Jared Bednar after the game.
Rantanen did not practice on Monday as well, with Bednar calling it a “maintenance day” and saying he expects him to play as the team embarks on an East Coast road trip this week.
“We just want to make sure we’re putting him in the best possible situation to succeed. So, if he needs a little time before we go to Toronto, then we’ll give it to him,” Bednar said.
“He played really well the other night, so we’ll just keep talking to him and see how he’s feeling and play it from there.”
Indeed, a four-point night in his return showed a glimpse of what this Avs squad — which has been beleaguered by injuries thus far this season — could look like at full strength.
But at what cost?
Bednar assured the media on Monday that the team isn’t looking to “rush anyone back at this point in the year” and that they’ll “continue to do what’s right by the individual and for the team.”
And nothing nefarious seems to have happened with Rantanen, who clearly demonstrated his readiness to return with a four-point performance Saturday.
But, perhaps Colorado should move forward with an abundance of caution. It’s not like this Avs team hasn’t been humming during the past six weeks without Rantanen and captain Gabe Landeskog.
In fact, since Rantanen’s injury on Oct. 21, Colorado’s gone 9-7-1 — and they’re 8-6-1 without him and Landeskog.
If you remove a five-game skid right after each star went down, Colorado’s won eight of their last 11 games.
Bednar said he has no timetable for Landeskog’s return, who donned a non-contact jersey at practice Monday, but said “he’s kind of where (they) were with Mikko last week.”
Here’s hoping Bednar and the Avs treat the captain with that abundance of caution so he too doesn’t suffer a setback.
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