The Avalanche will be without one of its key players and veteran leaders for the next 2-4 weeks, as forward Milan Hejduk
will undergo an arthroscopic procedure on his knee.
Hejduk has already missed six games this season due to the knee injury, including Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
The 33-year-old is tied for fourth on the club with 30 points (15g/15a) in 40 games this season. He is also tied for second on the Avalanche in goals and leads the team with six power-play tallies.
During Sunday’s practice, T.J. Galiardi and Brandon Yip played the wings on a line centered by Matt Duchene
– the spot a healthy Hejduk would normally occupy.
“Obviously he’s one of our better players and a guy who contributes a lot offensively for our team,” said Duchene. “He’s a guy that I’ve played with most of the year and have had great chemistry with, so it’s tough to lose a great linemate like that.”
If the past few months are any indication, someone will step up and fill the scoring void left by Hejduk’s absence. It has seemed to be a calling card of the club this season; when someone goes down, everyone else in the locker room picks up their game.
“There’s going to be some added opportunities for guys,” said Duchene. “It’s just going to be a matter of who steps up to the plate and fills that role. It’s tough to lose a guy like that, but it can mean more chances for other guys.”Homestand Continues Tomorrow
While the news about Hejduk was the biggest storyline to come out of Sunday’s practice, the Avalanche still had to focus on preparing for Monday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.
Edmonton has struggled for the majority of the season and currently sits last in both the Northwest Division and the Western Conference with 37 points. Winners of only one of their last 10 games (1-8-1), the Oilers have played the Avalanche particularly tough this season.
Colorado blanked Edmonton, 3-0, on Oct. 27 at Rexall Place, but has since dropped a pair of games to its division rival. The Oilers earned a 5-3 win on Nov. 8 at Pepsi Center and followed that up with a 6-4 triumph on Nov. 18 in Edmonton.
“They’ve had our number recently,” said Chris Stewart. “We’re not looking at the standings. We just have to go out and play it like another other game. It’s a big division game, a four-point game, and we need to get the two points.”