Rantanen expected to play vs Leafs; Landeskog, Calvert close
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Mikko Rantanen didn’t practice Monday, but coach Jared Bednar said it was a maintenance day, and he expects him to play Wednesday when the Avalanche are in Toronto to open a three-game road trip.
“We’re putting him in the best possible situation to succeed, so if he needs a little time before we go to Toronto, then we’ll give it to him,” Bednar said. “We’ll just keep talking to him and seeing how he’s feeling and play it from there.”
Rantanen played 10:43 Saturday after missing 16 games with a high ankle sprain. He had a goal and three assists in a 7-3 win against Chicago at the Pepsi Center but didn’t play in the third period and wasn’t available to the media after the game.
“He tweaked his leg a little bit a couple of times and started to get a little tired, so I didn't see a reason to bring him out for the third in a (blowout),” Bednar said after the game. “He'll be ready to go.”
Captain Gabriel Landeskog did practice Monday while wearing a no-contact jersey, will travel with the team Tuesday and could return from his right leg injury during the trip.
Landeskog last played Oct. 26 against Anaheim and has missed 15 games. He was at his locker after practice Monday, but we aren’t allowed to talk to him because he’s still considered to be injured.
“I haven’t put a timetable on his return yet,” Bednar said. “He’s kind of where we were with Mikko last week. We want to get him in some practices, get him working with the guys and then we’ll make a decision on which day we want him (to play). In communication with him we’ll make a decision together on which day he’s going to play.”
The Avalanche won’t practice Tuesday before leaving for Toronto. They also play Thursday in Montreal and Saturday in Boston.
Forward Matt Calvert, who has missed six games with a concussion, took part in a full-contact practice Monday and hopes to play Wednesday. He sustained the injury Nov. 16, along with a gash behind his ear that needed six stitches, on a shot by Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson in the final minutes of the third period.
“You have to go through protocol and you have to have a bunch of good days in a row,” Calvert said. “This was my first test at practice. We have a travel day tomorrow, so as long as the response is good, I’m hoping to be in the lineup as soon as possible.”
The on-ice officials allowed play to continue as Calvert lay on the ice bleeding even as Pettersson alerted everyone to his condition.
The Avalanche had a two-goal lead and Vancouver scored after pulling its goalie for an extra skater to pull within a goal before Calvert was helped off the ice. The Canucks scored again to tie the game, and Nathan MacKinnon scored 27 seconds into overtime for a 5-4 win.
“They pulled their goalie and Pettersson waited me out and he kind of pulled it back,” Calvert said. “The idea for me was to spin and maybe get a stick on it and unfortunately it hit me in back of the ear. It’s part of the game and too bad they scored in the end. It didn’t feel too hot after and I’ve had some great time to recover and I’m excited to be back in the lineup.”
I asked Calvert if, in hindsight, he wish play had been stopped to get him immediate assistance.
“I’ve been on the other side of it where guys take it in the face,” he said. “I’ve taken it on the forehead. The biggest thing for me was when an opposing team’s player is kind of in a little bit of shock. He has the best view of it, and he has his hand up and is kind of looking around like, ‘This guy just took one in the head.’
“It was kind of a little surprising (that play continued), but it’s been addressed and hopefully it can change in the future. You never want to be the guinea pig, but if it’s in the face or anywhere near your head, I don’t think a guy is going to sell it to get a quick whistle. If the rule changes for the better, I’m all for it.”
Center Nazem Kadri left practice to receive medical attention after being high-sticked. Bednar didn’t seem too concerned, so it sounds like he should be available Wednesday for his Toronto homecoming.
Forward Andre Burakovsky (upper body) and defenseman Erik Johnson (lower body) didn’t practice. Bednar said Burakovsky might join the team at some point on the trip, but Johnson remains week-to-week.
Bednar said forward Colin Wilson (lower body) is scheduled to have surgery and will be out long term.