After suffering a concussion on December 3rd, Colorado Avalanche forward Artturi Lehkonen is expected back in the lineup for this afternoon’s contest on the road in St. Louis against the Blues, says Bennett Durando of The Denver Post. Lehkonen was never placed on IR with the injury, missing three games and seven days total. At last report on Thursday, the veteran had been placed in concussion protocol. According to Durando, Lehkonen will skate on the top line this afternoon alongside Mikko Rantanen and Valeri Nichushkin.
Colorado’s injury woes this season have been well reported, the consistent and significant injuries sending the reigning Stanley Cup Champions into a fight for a playoff position even at the one-third mark of the season. After losing Nichushkin for over a month, the team then found out they’d be without perennial Hart Trophy candidate Nathan MacKinnon for four weeks, only compounding the issue. Beyond just their stars, which also includes Gabriel Landeskog, who has yet to play this season, Colorado has lost a number of secondary and depth options for small and large portions of the season.
Lehkonen has been one of the bright spots for the Avalanche so far this season, recording seven goals and 11 assists through 22 games, well on his way to a career-year. The team will need him to keep that scoring pace up in order to do their best to navigate other injuries, like MacKinnon’s, but it’s not yet known what sort of lingering effect, if any, will come with the concussion.
Staying on the injury front, Durando adds that Darren Helm and Evan Rodrigues are not yet ready to return to the lineup. Helm, who has yet to play this season, has been close to returning and was even a possibility to play this weekend, but will clearly need to wait a little bit longer to make his season debut. Rodrigues hasn’t played since suffering a lower-body injury against the Vancouver Canucks back on November 23rd, but had been a bright spot amid the injuries, with nine points in his first 18 games for Colorado.