Jan 30: Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos was correct when he reported MacKinnon underwent surgery, as Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar confirmed today. MacKinnon has been ruled out for the All-Star Game, and Bednar told reporters including Baugh that Mikko Rantanen was “an easy case” as his replacement. That case may be ineffective though, as David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period tweets that it will be Roman Josi who replaces MacKinnon instead, giving the Central Division another defenseman.
Jan 28: Two high-profile centers are unavailable for their teams at the moment because of head injuries. Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon has been ruled out for the team’s last three games before the All-Star break as he deals with a facial fracture and concussion from Taylor Hall’s hit on Wednesday night. The Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado’s opponent tonight, will be without Jonathan Toews as he is also in the concussion protocol. Toews finished his last game against the Detroit Red Wings, though Charlie Roumeliotis of NBCS Chicago noticed a hit that could have caused the issue.
With MacKinnon out, the Avalanche will go with a top line of Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and Valeri Nichushkin, according to Peter Baugh of The Athletic. Dylan Sikura, recently recalled, will enter the lineup on the fourth line and play in his second NHL game of the season. Sikura has 31 points in 29 games for the Colorado Eagles this season.
Obviously, the loss of MacKinnon is a big one, given his place as one of the top players in the entire league. With 43 points in 31 games so far, he was named to the Central Division All-Star team, a spot that now seems up for grabs. It is unlikely that he would participate after suffering an injury like this, meaning there should be a replacement named in the coming days. Given he was the “captain” of the group, that will also have to be decided if MacKinnon is indeed held out of the event.
For Toews, this is just the latest in what has been a difficult season. Coming back from his missed 2020-21 campaign, the 33-year-old forward hasn’t exactly been himself, registering just four goals in 43 games so far. In 2019-20 he had 18 but had previously never recorded fewer than 20 in any of his first 12 NHL seasons. With just 19 points in those 43 contests, he ranks fifth on the Blackhawks in scoring, well behind Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat who have carried the load thus far. He’s also averaging fewer than 18 minutes a night for the first time in his career and will now potentially miss some time with a concussion.