NHL’s protest pause will undoubtedly aid banged up Avalanche

Throughout the regular season, the Avalanche won more than it lost with an injury-depleted lineup.

Ravaged by injuries to top scorers, depth players, and their top two goalies, the Avs persevered and won an NHL-most 24 games on the road.

But let’s face it, Colorado is in a much better position to win with most of its players available.

Well, the Avs are still on the road, like the other three teams in the Western Conference bubble in Edmonton, and this sudden break in action from teams sitting out due to social injustice protests might prove helpful.

This team needs rest. It needs to get healthy. And a three-day break between games at Rogers Place can only help.

Following their 6-4 victory in Game 3 on Wednesday night to trim the Dallas Stars’ lead in the series to 2-1, the Avs were down two key defensemen, two important forwards and No. 1 goalie Philipp Grubauer.

If Game 4 was played on Friday as originally scheduled, Colorado would have again been without Grubauer and defenseman Erik Johnson, and probably forward Matt Calvert and defenseman Nikita Zadorov. Forward Joonas Donskoi, who was “unfit to play” in Game 3, might have toughened it out in Game 4, but that was far from a sure thing.

With the Avs not giving information regarding injuries, we really don’t know when the injured players will be back. But it’s probably safe to assume Grubauer is not likely to return in this series, Johnson is highly questionable and Calvert, Zadorov and Donskoi could return for Sunday’s game.

If you’re an Avalanche fan, the NHL’s second “pause” this season comes at an opportune time. Even if the aforementioned players don’t return Sunday, their availability for Monday’s Game 5 is higher than it might have been.

The Avs took Friday off, with no media availability with players or coach Jared Bednar. They will practice Saturday in Edmonton, and more might be known more about the injured players — each of whom plays a significant role.

Johnson, Zadorov and Calvert, in particular, are the type of guys you need at this time of the season when toughness is paramount to team success. It goes beyond body checking because these are the guys who stand their ground after the whistle when the line is drawn. Their replacements are far less willing to play that role, because if they were, they wouldn’t be replacements.

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