CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Mikko Rantanen could return to the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday for their game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
Coach Jared Bednar said Rantanen, who has been out since sustaining a lower-body injury during a 3-1 loss at the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 21, will not travel with Colorado for their game against the Blackhawks on Friday, but could play in the second half of the home-and-home series at Pepsi Center Saturday.
“Jumping him back into his first game and playing in a back-to-back in a day and a half is probably not the best idea,” Bednar said Wednesday. “So we’ll give him the extra time and hopefully he’s ready to go for Saturday rested and fully recovered, feeling really confident on his leg.”
The forward, who has missed 14 games, wore a regular-contact jersey for the first time on Tuesday.
Rantanen, who has 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in nine games, was tied with center Nathan MacKinnon for the Avalanche lead in points at the time of the injury. Colorado is 6-7-1 without him heading into their game against the Edmonto Oilers at Pepsi Center on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; ESPN+, ALT, SNW, NHL.TV).
“Felt good, I feel better every day,” he said Tuesday. “I just need a couple more days with the team and practicing. It’s a long process. Ligament injuries are not always easy to rehab, it takes a lot of work. The medical team has done a good job with me, and I feel good on the ice now.”
Bednar said there is no timetable for the return of forward Gabriel Landeskog, who wore a no-contact jersey while skating and taking shots before practice Tuesday for the first time since he sustained a lower-body injury Oct. 26 against the Anaheim Ducks.
“He started out with a light skate yesterday, it got heavier today (at morning skate). He did more today,” Bednar said. “He’s in a similar situation to what we’re seeing out of Mikko. We play tonight, we’ll be leaving tomorrow and he won’t be coming with us.
“He will continue to skate and I’m hoping early next week that he can start maybe getting in with the group for a little bit with a non-contact jersey and advance as quickly as we can based on the way he’s feeling and just see where it goes.”
Landeskog, who has missed 12 games, has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 games.
The Avalanche have gone 5-6-1 without Rantanen and Landeskog, who play with MacKinnon on the top line. MacKinnon is sixth in the NHL with 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 23 games and has 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 12 games without his usual linemates.
The Avalanche also are without forward Colin Wilson, who sustained a lower-body injury Oct. 26 against Anaheim, and forward Matt Calvert, who sustained a head injury Nov. 16 against the Vancouver Canucks.
Defenseman Erik Johnson, who sustained an upper-body injury Saturday when he was boarded by Toronto Maple Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot, skated Tuesday while wearing a no-contact jersey. Kerfoot was given a two-game suspension Monday by the NHL Department of Player Safety.
“We won’t see him for the next handful of games,” Bednar said about Johnson. “He tried it yesterday on the ice. Things went OK, but he doesn’t feel great today. We’re going to shut him down for a little bit and let him get healthy. It’s that time of year, no use pushing it and making it worse.
“He’ll get tonight off and he won’t play on the weekend and then they’ll reevaluate from there.”