The Avalanche’s loss on Saturday marked their fifth-straight defeat, and it stung that much more when Colorado learned they would be without defenseman Erik Johnson for nearly two months due to a broken fibula.
The Colorado Avalanche have allowed at least three goals against in each of their past five games, have dropped each of those outings and were held scoreless in their most recent defeat, a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars.
And the only breaks for the Avalanche right now appear to be bad ones.
During the second period of Saturday’s loss, Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson made a gutsy shot block on a Tyler Seguin blast during a Stars power play. Unfortunately, though, Johnson’s reward for getting in the shooting lane and turning aside Seguin’s booming shot is a broken fibula that will see the 28-year-old rearguard on the shelf for 6-8 weeks.
It was clear from the outset that Johnson was in a bad way when he blocked Seguin’s shot, too. Cutting to the front of the net, Johnson had his body sideways when Seguin rifled the puck. That allowed the puck to catch Johnson closer to the back of Johnson’s leg, seemingly in an area where he had little to no padding. Blocking the shot immediately felled Johnson, and he headed for the dressing room as soon as the opportunity arose:
At a time like this, when the team is struggling so mightily defensively, losing a blueliner who logs upwards of 20 minutes per night is devastating for the Avalanche. The only defenseman who has averaged more ice time per game than Johnson is Tyson Barrie, and it’s entirely likely that Barrie actually sees an increase in ice time from the nearly 23 minutes a night he’s already playing this season with Johnson on the shelf.
There’s a ripple effect, too. With Johnson out, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar is going to need to shake up his blueline, and he may have to consider some pairings he hasn’t used to this point in the season. That could be especially true if the lower-body injury that kept Fedor Tyutin out of Saturday’s game is anything serious.
As for the losing streak, Bednar wasn’t about to blame that on the injuries, but he understands the position his team has found itself in.
"Injuries are not an excuse, but it helps to have some of those guys in the lineup," Bednar said, according to NHL.com’s Rick Sadowski. "You're missing a pair on [defense] and...we have to stick with it and get through it. It's the only way to get out of this.”
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