Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar announced after today's morning skate that defenseman Erik Johnson will miss his first game of the season tonight when the Avs host the Edmonton Oilers.
Johnson is out with a lower-body injury that he suffered in the last outing against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. He was cross-checked into the board by Leafs forward Alexander Kerfoot, and the play resulted in a two-game suspension for Kerfoot.
Johnson did not skate on Monday but did participate in the Avalanche's practice on Tuesday in a red, non-contact jersey. Originally listed as day-to-day, he will miss the next "handful of games."
Bednar noted that the Bloomington, Minnesota, native will not play tonight against the Oilers or in the back-to-back, home-and-home set with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and Saturday.
"I don't know about setback, I think day-to-day was hopeful," Bednar said of Johnson's timeline. "He tried it yesterday on the ice, things went OK, but he doesn't feel great today. So, we got to shut him down here for a little bit and let him get healthy, it is that time of year. No use pushing it and making it worse, so he will get tonight off. He won't play on the weekend and then we will reevaluate from there."
The veteran rear guard has played in all 23 games for the Avalanche so far this year and has six points (one goal, five assists) and leads the club with an average of 3:48 of short-handed ice time per game and regular time on ice with 22:12.
Johnson has been paired with Samuel Girard for most of the season and with him unable to play, Calle Rosen will begin Wednesday's game skating with Girard. It will be Rosen's first game with Colorado after the Avs acquired the defenseman from Toronto on July 1 in a six-piece trade that also included forward Nazem Kadri.
Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar gives lineup changes and more
OTHER INJURY NEWS
Mikko Rantanen was a full participant in Tuesday's practice and morning skate but will not play against the Oilers. After Colorado's morning skate, Bednar noted that Rantanen is likely to return when the Avs host the Blackhawks on Saturday in the second half of a home-and-home set.
"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, so we will give him the extra time," said Bednar. "Then, hopefully he is ready to go for Saturday, rested and fully recovered and feeling really confident on his leg."
Tonight's outing will be the 15th game of the year that Rantanen has missed after he suffered a lower-body injury at the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 21.
Like Rantanen, Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog is making progress as he recovers from his lower-body injury, but Bednar does not have a timetable for his return. He last played on Oct. 26, though he got hurt in a game prior to that outing but the ailment didn't reveal itself until he had some discomfort during practice on Oct. 27.
"He started out with a lighter skate yesterday, got heavier today," Bednar said of Landeskog. "He is doing more today, he will be out there longer on the ice today. He is in a similar situation to basically what we are seeing out of Mikko, hopefully soon here.
"You know, we play tonight, we'll be leaving tomorrow, he won't be coming with us. He will continue to skate though, and then I am hoping that early next week that he can start maybe getting in with the group here a little bit in non-contact and into a contact jersey. We will just advance him as quickly as we can based on the way he is feeling, just see where it goes."