Avalanche Gameday: No Nichushkin, New-Look Powerplay

Colorado Hockey Now

No, the Colorado Avalanche will not have Valeri Nichushkin on Thursday night.

However, the good news is that it doesn’t appear to be serious, although we all know that can change any second. As of this moment, he’s listed as “day-to-day” and they’ll just keep evaluating him on a daily basis.

At practice on Wednesday, Brandon Duhaime replaced Nichushkin on the second line, and I anticipate that’s what will happen against the New York Rangers. The powerplay will look a little bit different, though.

Instead of putting Artturi Lehkonen in Nichushkin’s spot in front of the net, the Avalanche are moving Casey Mittelstadt to the top unit. The only reason that’s surprising is because Mittelstadt doesn’t exactly fill the same role that big Val does. That’s because it looks like we might see some different looks from Colorado tonight with the man advantage.

During morning skate, Mittelstadt was along the right wall, while Jonathan Drouin was on the left wall. Mikko Rantanen moved along the goal line, while Nathan MacKinnon was in the bumper spot. I’m sure everyone will move around during game action, but the powerplay has gone flat the last two games, and this will be a fresh look.

“He certainly has a skillset that says he should be looked at in that spot,” Bednar said of Mittelstadt. “Again, we’re still experimenting a little bit to see what sort of different looks we can throw at teams and that’s certainly a different look.”

Jean-Luc Foudy will replace Nichushkin in the lineup, as Joel Kiviranta is not available due to illness. Foudy scored in his only NHL game this year.

“I’d love to see him repeat his performance,” Bednar said. “He was a highly competitive player.”

Other News And Notes

  • Alexandar Georgiev was not at morning skate, but is scheduled to start against his former team. He’ll face-off against the goaltender he used to share the net with, Igor Shesterkin.
  • Sam Girard was not at practice yesterday, but skated and will play.
  • Zach Parise looks like he’ll move to the second powerplay unit, if it ever touches the ice.
  • The Avalanche can clinch a playoff spot tonight if a lot of things go their way.

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