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MacKinnon absent, Makar makes appearance at Avs practice

Avalanche heading to NHL bubble in Edmonton July 26
Published: Jul. 23, 2020 at 4:40 PM MDT
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DENVER (KKTV) - Colorado’s star forward Nathan MacKinnon was mysteriously missing at Thursday’s practice on the Pepsi Center ice, as the Avalanche inch closer to their season restart.

Head Coach Jared Bednar declined to comment on MacKinnon’s absence following practice, as NHL guidelines on a players medical condition prohibits him from doing so. Immediately before the NHL suspended play in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MacKinnon was set to miss 1-2 weeks of play due to a lower-body injury. But the Avalanche did not say if MacKinnon’s day off the ice was due to injury or some other reason.

Avalanche rookie defensemen Cale Makar laced up the skates for the first time in nearly a week, lightly skating solo before team practice Wednesday morning. The Avs declined to elaborate on Makar’s injuries since departing Saturday’s practice early. On Wednesday, MacKinnon told the media Makar “will be healthy soon,” indicating some sort of injury was preventing the Calder Memorial Trophy finalist from a normal skate.

“Having Cale back on the ice is a good, positive sign,” coach Bednar said in a Zoom interview Thursday. “He’s back out there working on his own, and hopefully he’s able to join the group quickly and be ready to go for when we get into Edmonton.”

Practice intensity ramped up at the Pepsi Center Thursday. The Avalanche have only three more days of workouts in Denver before they travel to Edmonton inside the NHL bubble. The Avs practice consisted mostly of a scrimmage, two 25-minute periods with a brief break to re-hydrate and get back in form.

“Everybody’s engaged, everybody’s ready to go,” Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog said after practice. “It’s not that rusty training camp look [at the] start of the season that you sometimes see. Everybody’s excited, everybody realizes we have to crank it up as fast as we can.”

The Avalanche will play three round-robin games as one of the top four seeds in the Western Conference, beginning with the Blues Aug. 2. Their spot in the postseason is guaranteed, and they will compete for seeding before the first round of the postseason begins. The opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs will include 16 teams in the traditional best-of-seven series.

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