Avalanche defensemen Erik Johnson was previously reported as doubtful for game two of Avalanche vs Stars. He’s now been downgraded to out indefinitely, same as goalie Philipp Grubauer. The two players won’t be seeing the ice for the foreseeable future. Erik Johnson was injured early in game one but toughed it out for the majority of the game, Grubauer went down in the 1st period with a non contact injury.
Connauton will be replacing Erik Johnson for the Avalanche at defense. Jared Bednar said the decision is due the Connauton’s previous experience and his size. Johnson and Connauton are pretty similar in size and style of play. So the replacement won’t be equal in talent but Connauton will play similar to Erik Johnson in terms of physicality and defense first style of play. While the Avalanche do have a couple of solid, and very talented, young defensemen in Timmins and Byram they have little to zero NHL experience.
The Avalanche have an awesome track record of introducing electric young defensemen in the playoffs. The All Hale Cale movement started in the first game of Makar’s playoff experience. Cale Makar is more than likely the exception and not the rule. Putting Byram or Timmins in the lineup for the first time in the playoffs is unlikely to lead to their first playoff goal in their first game. Especially when you remember that Cale Makar had a couple years of development under his belt at the collegiate level, where he was dominating, before jumping in with the Avalanche.
Byram was the fourth overall pick in 2019, he’s played in the Canadien Hockey League before making the Avalanche roster for the 2020 bubble playoffs. Not quite the same development as Makar. Plus Byram is 19 and has never played in an NHL game, Timmins at least has played 2 games. Like I said, Timmins is in a similar boat. He’s been playing for the Avalanche AHL affiliate the Colorado Eagles for the past year. He played 40 games and ended up with 27 points before he made the Avalanche expanded roster for the 2020 playoffs. Both Timmins and Byram are elite talents, but right now they are mainly prospects. It makes far more sense to play an experienced veteran rather than roll the dice on one of the inexperienced young stud defensemen.
Sure one of them could pull a Makar and absolutely blow expectations out of the water, but it’s more likely they nervous and make mistakes with the added pressure of playoffs. Would have loved to see Byram out there on the ice tonight though. I had dreams of Byram clapping a one timer from the point for a goal off a pass from Mackinnon. Alas that dream will have to wait for another day.
Along with Grubauer and Erik Johnson out indefinitely, Matt Calvert will be unavailable to play in game two of the Stars vs Avalanche series. Calvert is not out indefinitely so that’s a positive.