On his 23rd birthday, defenseman Anton Lindholm will be back in the Colorado Avalanche lineup when the team takes on the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center this evening.
The Skelleftea, Sweden, native has been out since he broke his jaw blocking a shot at the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 4.
The injury forced him to miss the last three weeks, which included nine games, two that were part the SAP NHL Global Series in his home country.
"I had some surgery and some rubber bands that shut my mouth the first couple of weeks," Lindholm said of his recovery. "Luckily, I got to take all of the screws out. I don't have to wear the rubber bands anymore, and I can eat decently normal food.
"I was on an all liquid diet the first week, two weeks. It's hard to keep up calorie wise. I mean I had some shakes that contained like 1500 calories, but they are not very good. So eating during the day on multiple occasions was the key."
Now that the 5-foot-11, 191-pound defenseman has been able to get back into his normal routine, he is ready for game action.
He skated on his own for just over a week after the injury and has been a full participant in the team's practices since Nov. 21. The speed of the group sessions have prepared him to be game ready.
"High-pace practices, you can't get anything closer to a game than that," he said. "Obviously, that has helped me just growing my confidence back and knowing that I am confident that my injury is good enough."
Video: Anton Lindholm returns to the Avs lineup
Before getting hurt, Lindholm played in nine games for the Avalanche and was averaging 15:26 of ice time.
"The two main things are his skating ability, his ability to defend and his commitment to defend, and then also the edge that he plays with," Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said of the rear guard. "He is a physical guy for his size. He can close quickly on players, he can close out plays in the defensive zone. That is what he brings. He brings that tenacity to the game every night, a real consistent player."
Will the injury make Lindholm think twice about trying to stop pucks in the future?
"I mean, obviously my kind of game is blocking shots on PK and 5-on-5," he said. "So, I think just getting that first block out of the way and just keep reminding myself that I have blocked a couple hundred pucks before that happened."
The Avs will be hosting a confident Winnipeg squad who is coming off of a 7-2 win over the Minnesota Wild and has won seven of its last nine contests.
"Our work ethic is probably the biggest key in our game and just that everyone buys in on the way we should play and following our game plan," Lindholm said. "The guys have been working their [butts] off for the games that I have been watching from the side, and I think we are just looking to keep that up tonight.
"Coming in and getting a good start. I think that's key for me. And like I said, following the game I should play--blocking shots, being a presence out there and making simple but fast plays."
VARLY BACK IN NET
After missing three games with an illness, goaltender Semyon Varlamov will be back in the crease for Colorado tonight.
He is 7-4-1 this season and has registered a 3.23 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. Varlamov's last contest at Pepsi Center was his 300th game as a member of the Avalanche on Nov. 16 versus the Washington Capitals.
"Its huge," teammate Sven Andrighetto said of having Varlamov back in the lineup. "He is going to be between the pipes tonight. He has been great so far for us this year. We are happy that he is back."
Video: Sven Andrighetto back on the top line
SIEMENS JOINS THE AVS
Blueliner Duncan Siemens was recalled from the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League on Tuesday afternoon. He has one goal and two assists in 20 games played with the Rampage this campaign.
"We liked what we saw in camp out of him and he brings an element that we could use on the backend," Bednar said. "He is a tough guy to play against. He is hard in front of the net, he is physical, he has that edge to his game and that sandpaper to his game that we can use. Bringing a guy like him up and having him here for us at our disposal I think is a positive thing."
Despite getting the call up, he is expected to the be the healthy defensive scratch for Colorado against the Jets.
Sven Andrighetto - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - J.T. Compher
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Gabriel Bourque - Dominic Toninato - Nail Yakupov
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Mark Barberio
Anton Lindholm - Tyson Barrie