PITTSBURGH—It's been a strange situation this past week for Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog.
Fully healthy, Landeskog watched the past two games from the press box for the first time in his career after he was suspended for what the NHL's Department of Player Safety determined as an illegal hit to the head of Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand last Thursday.
The forward had appeared in each of the Avs' first 16 contests this season and had only missed 13 games in his first four campaigns in the league—one because of a leg injury in 2013-14 and 12 in 2013-14 because of head (11) and torso (one) ailments. The suspension put Landeskog in an unfamiliar spot for the team's games in Montreal on Saturday and Toronto on Tuesday.
"That's definitely the situation that is different because you're not sitting up there with an injury," Landeskog said. "You're sitting there just healthy and ready to go, but you're still not in the lineup."
With his suspension now over, the Avs will get their captain back for tonight's contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"I'm excited to get back into it. I feel good and hungry to get back into things," Landeskog said. "I think when you sit up top, you see things a little differently. Maybe I learned a thing or two that I can implement tonight."
Landeskog will return to his old spot in the Colorado lineup, on the left side of a line that includes centers Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene. The trio was first put together in the third period versus the New York Rangers on Nov. 6 and combined for two goals and four assists in two full games.
Mikhail Grigorenko replaced Landeskog on the line for the last two outings and the combo continued to have success, but Roy is going to go back to what worked originally. Grigorenko will center the third line this evening between Cody McLeod and Andreas Martinsen.
"Obviously, it's nice to have him back," Roy said of Landeskog. "He's a key player on our team. Certainly, [he] played really well with Nate and Matt."
Landeskog continued practicing with the team for the last week and was officially moved back to the line with Duchene and MacKinnon during Wednesday's practice at Consol Energy Center.
The left wing said he thinks the line can pick up where they left off in the second period against the Bruins when he was given a match penalty and ejected from the contest.
"I think we mesh well. I think we've had a couple good practices," Landeskog said. "It's just a matter of doing the little things right and the production is going to come. Main focus will be to do the little things right, making sure we do good decisions with the puck and try to give those guys the puck in the O-zone, and they'll make it happen from there."
The Stockholm, Sweden, native was the ironman on the club before the suspension with him having played in 178 consecutive games. He'll get a chance to start a new streak this evening.
STREET COULD BE OUT LONG TERM
Ben Street injured his chest in Colorado's game on Tuesday night in Toronto and traveled back to Denver on Wednesday.
Street might be out for a while as Roy said this morning the forward might need surgery and could miss 3-4 months
The center was recalled from San Antonio on Nov. 2 and played in each of the Avalanche's last seven games, mostly on the team's third and fourth lines.
GAME-TIME DECISION ON DEFENSE
Roy said it would be a game-time decision between playing Nate Guenin or Zach Redmond with Brandon Gormley on the Avalanche's third D-pairing.
Guenin, a native of nearby Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, has appeared in 12 contests this season and in each of the last four. Redmond, who as was recalled last Thursday from San Antonio, has been a healthy scratch the last two games and would make his season debut if he is in the Colorado lineup tonight.
After playing all of last season with the Avalanche and recording five goals and 15 assists in 59 games, Redmond began this year in the American Hockey League. He had seven points (three goals and four assists) and a plus-6 rating in 11 contests for the Rampage before being called up.
Redmond said you always have to be ready to play even if you're not in the lineup.
"You just approach it the same way," Redmond said. "You get your rest, eat well and you always have to be on your toes because that's the truth of the matter; you never know in this game, and I guess it is something that gets easier with time."
Gabriel Landeskog—Nathan MacKinnon—Matt Duchene
Blake Comeau—Carl Soderberg—Jarome Iginla
Cody McLeod—Mikhail Grigorenko—Andreas Martinsen
Dennis Everberg—Chris Wagner—Jack Skille
Francois Beauchemin—Erik Johnson
Nick Holden—Tyson Barrie
Brandon Gormley—Nate Guenin or Zach Redmond