The injury initially occurred when MacKinnon blocked a shot on February 22 when his club faced off against Tampa Bay. X-rays were taken at the time and came back negative, so he continued to play. This led to another blocked shot incident on Wednesday when his team played the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored the winning goal in the contest.
But after practice on Thursday, MacKinnon noticed pain in his foot and had an MRI. The fracture was revealed.
“It’s never good news when you’re losing a player like Nate, especially in a key moment in our season,” head coach Patrick Roy said. “It’s been a year like this and we’re going to have to win games without him.”
MacKinnon hasn’t exactly lit it up this season, scoring 14 goals and potting 38 points in 64 games. But in the past 10 games, he seemed to be picking things up. He had five goals and a total of nine points in those matchups, suggesting a return to the form expected of him.
The Avalanche currently sit with a 28-25-11 record and are nine points back on the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. Colorado has 18 games to go.
As for MacKinnon, his less than stellar play saw him demoted to the third and fourth lines last Saturday when the Avalanche played the Wild. The recent uptick creates a less than satisfying situation for Colorado, but Roy says he’ll probably have Cody McLeod fill in on the top line alongside Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly. Danny Briere will slip into McLeod’s now vacant spot on the fourth line.
The Avs have back-to-back road games to look forward to this weekend, at which point they’ll assess the damages more completely. It’s past time for a replacement and they’re stuck with what they have, so Roy has to hope his line juggling will do the trick.