Nathan MacKinnon is day to day with an upper-body injury and won't play for the Colorado Avalanche against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, ALT, NHL.TV).
"Hopefully it's not that serious and we can get him back in the lineup here soon," coach Jared Bednar told Altitude AM 950 in Denver on Wednesday. "It depends what you classify as serious. Every game without him is not good, but hopefully he can get healthy and get back in and join us here soon."
MacKinnon was grabbing his left shoulder on the bench before going to the locker room following a hit on Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler at 13:44 of the second period in a 4-3 loss on Tuesday. The forward's 61 points (24 goals, 37 assists) are second in the NHL behind Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, who has 64 points (27 goals, 37 assists).
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"He's such a valuable piece to our team as everybody knows," Bednar said of MacKinnon. "We're just a different team with him in the lineup. He's been healthy and playing well for us. You know it just becomes more difficult to win when he's not in there. For him to miss a game or two, or three … when you see him leave the ice … if it's long term it's a little scary for your team.
"We're hoping for the best, still, at this point. He'll get re-evaluated again today and see how he is and go from there. The first indications are it's not real serious, but again, he may miss a game or two and three, and you just don't know how long it will be. It's still tough, especially when you're in the spot that we're in, but it certainly could be worse."
The Avalanche (27-18-4, 58 points) have lost three in a row (0-2-1) since a 10-game winning streak. They trail the Minnesota Wild by one point for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference after finishing 30th in the League with 48 points last season.
"The difference in that 10-game stretch is we were doing it for 60 minutes," Bednar said. "It's important that we establish that here on the road in order to stay in this thing."
Goaltender Semyon Varlamov (groin) could return during a six-game road trip that ends at the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Jonathan Bernier has made 12 consecutive starts.
"He's getting real close," Bednar said of Varlamov. "He's doing real well. We had an indication over All-Star break that he could be a player for us this week, which is another reason why we brought him (on the road trip). The last couple of team practices have gone real well, so he certainly can be a player for us here. I'd like to get him on the ice again today and we'll see how it goes."