Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon is nursing an upper-body injury that is believed to have been exacerbated during a third-period fight against the Minnesota Wild and defenseman Matt Dumba.
He’s already been ruled out of Tuesday’s clash against the Pacific Division-leading Calgary Flames on Tuesday night — and the possibility that he can miss an extended period of time seems sizable.
MacKinnon was sent back from Calgary to Denver as head coach Jared Bednar told reporters on Tuesday (h/t Peter Baugh) that the level of concern regarding the injury is “high.”
This is just the latest injury issue for the star forward, who has missed a combined 12 games due to a lower-body injury along with a concussion and facial fracture.
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He’s one of the focal points of a loaded Avalanche team, posting 22 goals and 48 assists (70 points) in just 51 games this season — though the Avalanche has a comfortable enough lead atop the Central Division at 98 points to breeze through the rest of the regular season.
He appeared to be well on his way to a fourth-consecutive full season of 90-plus points. Over his last 324 games during that span, he’s averaged well over a point a game with 424 points.
The issue obviously emerges if the 26-year-old is forced to miss time in the postseason as the Avalanche has been the heavy favorites to win the Stanley Cup. A deep attack featuring the likes of Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog, Nazem Kadri – who is having a career year — and the young star defenseman in Cale Makar still makes Colorado a menacing team.
However, MacKinnon is an invaluable playmaker in the Avalanche’s ranks with 50 games of playoff experience under his belt.