After a disheartening 6-2 loss in Game 3, the Colorado Avalanche could get a huge momentum swing back in their favor tonight in the Stanley Cup Final. The Athletic’s Peter Baugh reports that, as of practice this morning, the team plans for center Nazem Kadri to return to the lineup for Game 4. Colorado Hockey Now’s Adrian Dater adds separately that Kadri is “definitely” playing tonight.
Per Baugh, Kadri skated with the regulars at practice this morning while right wing Nicolas Aube-Kubel skated with the healthy scratches. Barring any setbacks for Kadri during warmups, Aube-Kubel will likely draw out for Kadri to return.
Kadri hasn’t played since suffering a hand injury just 37 seconds into his first shift of Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. The hit by Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane, which forced Kadri’s hand awkwardly into the endboards, sidelined the Avalanche forward for two and a half weeks. Kane earned a one-game suspension on the play as the Avalanche completed their four-game sweep of the Oilers without either Kane or Kadri on the ice.
Despite the injury and the time missed, Kadri remains tied for fifth in playoff scoring on the Avalanche with six goals, eight assists, and 14 points in 13 games. It’s a repeat of his previous playoff success in an Avalanche uniform, as he tallied 18 points in 15 games during the team’s time in the 2020 playoff bubble.
Not only does Kadri’s return provide a gigantic boost to the Colorado offense on its own, it also causes a positive cascading effect on the team’s depth. J.T. Compher, who’s been an excellent energy forward for the team in recent games, will likely return to a bottom-six role, bolstering their ability to counterstrike against Tampa’s stellar veteran depth.