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Injured Defensemen Not On Road Trip

Erik Johnson and Cale Makar won't join the Avalanche for games in St. Louis or Chicago

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Erik Johnson and Cale Makar continue to skate as they recover from their respective injuries, but neither defensemen will join the Colorado Avalanche on its upcoming road trip against two Central Division opponents.

"[Johnson] and Cale are both going to stay here," said Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar. "[On-ice performance consultant] Shawn [Allard] is going to work with them for a few days just because we don't have a lot of ice (to practice) on this trip."

Colorado takes on the St. Louis Blues on Monday in a matchup of the top two teams in the Western Conference before facing the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday in the clubs' third meeting of the year.

Makar missed all three games of the Avs' recent homestand after suffering an upper-body injury on Dec. 7 at the Boston Bruins, while Johnson has been out since sustaining a lower-body injury on Nov. 23 versus the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Johnson participated in a portion of Colorado's team practice on Sunday at Family Sports Center, but he did so in a red, non-contact jersey. Makar only ran individual drills with Allard prior to the session.

Video: Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar before road trip

With only six healthy D-men on its roster, the Avalanche recalled Anton Lindholm from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League on Sunday morning as a reinforcement for the trip.

Pavel Francouz did not practice on Sunday as he was sick, but the goaltender will join the team on its trip to St. Louis.

Bednar said he has yet to make a decision on if Francouz or Philipp Grubauer will start Monday's game at the Blues. Francouz has started the past three contests with Grubauer recovering from a lower-body injury, but Grubauer was healthy enough to backup on Friday against the New Jersey Devils.

The Avs did make one change to their line combinations during the 50-minute practice, having Mikko Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi switch spots. Rantanen joined a Nathan MacKinnon-centered line with Andre Burakovsky while Donskoi moved to a unit with Nazem Kadri and Gabriel Landeskog.

"I felt last game especially, Mikko was working real hard, making some plays," Bednar said of the reasoning. "Both of our top lines were just OK in those games. I'm trying to get Mikko back with MacK and see how it works out."

Monday's game is the start of a busy week for the Avalanche, as the team plays five games in eight days before entering the NHL Holiday Break from Dec. 24-26. Colorado will have home contests against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday and Chicago on Saturday before traveling to play at the Vegas Golden Knights on Dec. 23.

Video: Ian Cole on the Avs finding ways to win games

PRACTICE LINE COMBINATIONS

Forwards
95 Andre Burakovsky - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
11 Matt Calvert - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 13 Valeri Nichushkin
83 Matt Nieto - 17 Tyson Jost - 37 J.T. Compher - 81 Vladislav Kamenev

Defensemen
16 Nikita Zadorov - 49 Samuel Girard
27 Ryan Graves - 28 Ian Cole
48 Calle Rosen - 44 Mark Barberio
*6 Erik Johnson

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer

* Non-contact participant

Did Not Practice: Pavel Francouz (ill), Cale Makar (upper body) Colin Wilson (lower body)

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