The Colorado Avalanche are trying their best to fight for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but will now have to do it without the services of their captain. Gabriel Landeskog will be out four to six weeks with an upper-body injury, essentially ending his regular season.
Colorado currently sits just four points behind the Minnesota Wild for the final wild card spot, and are the only non-playoff team with a positive goal differential in the Western Conference. A huge part of that differential though has been the play of Landeskog and his usual linemates, All-Stars Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen. That trio (though not always lining up together) has been the driving force behind any Avalanche success all season. The 26-year old Landeskog had already set career highs with 33 goals and 69 points this season, and had scored a league-leading nine game winners.
In fact, by nearly any metric or statistic Landeskog was in the midst of the best season of his career. There are few players who can impact the game in the same number of ways he can, engaging physically while still being an excellent offensive weapon. A loss like this will not only be felt on the ice, but in the locker room as well. His leadership qualities are heralded as some of the best in the league, leading to him being named captain at just 19 years old—the youngest in history at the time.
All hope is not lost for Colorado, but the idea of them catching Minnesota and doing any damage in the playoffs is certainly more daunting now. The team will play their final game of the season almost exactly four weeks from today, meaning he very well could miss the first round of the postseason if they do somehow pull it off.
Of course, some Avalanche fans will be excited even through the disappointment of seeing Landeskog go down. The team still holds the Ottawa Senators first-round pick in addition to their own, and would have two shots at first overall in the draft lottery if they miss the playoffs. The possibility of getting the top two picks in the draft doesn’t come around often, even if it would be a minuscule chance at this point.