When Erik Johnson was selected for his first ever NHL All-Star game, he couldn’t have been happier. That joy would soon turn into aggravation as the All-Star defenseman injured his knee, forcing him to withdrawal from the festivities. Every team has to deal with adversity and now the Avs must deal with more.
Many immediately assumed with Erik Johnson’s injury, it would mean the end of Colorado and their fight for a playoff spot. However, the Avalanche keep flying without the Condor. EJ’s new nickname came about during an Avalanche game in which analyst Peter McNab stated EJ was “flying around like a condor”. Ever since, it appears to have stuck, at least amongst fans.
All-Star Dreams Crushed
Wish I didn’t have to miss the All star wknd, but this @Avalanche team & my health come first, & are most important. Thanks for the support.
— Erik Johnson (@6ErikJohnson) January 23, 2015
Everyone thought EJ was just banged up and needed the rest. However it turned out to be more serious than that. Erik Johnson will now miss the next month or more with a knee scope.
Coach Roy said that Erik Johnson will miss the next 3-8 weeks following a knee scope.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 26, 2015
Flying Without the Condor
Losing Erik Johnson for a period of time that is crucial to the Avalanche’s playoff hopes is no doubt a massive blow. Johnson is Colorado’s number one defenseman, hands down. He logs huge amounts of ice-time each game while providing solid defense coupled with an incredible offensive season. EJ, Condor, Edge, whatever you wanna call him, he is a cornerstone piece on this Avalanche team.
Since Johnson went down however, the Avalanche are still flying high. The key will be consistency in their game, as they begin the most crucial month of their season. Last game against the Dallas Stars, the Avalanche yet again showed their persistence down two goals entering the third period. In a gigantic divisional game against a team they are fighting with for a playoff spot, the Avs were able to tie the game in the last minute on yet another 6 on 5 situation. They finished the impressive comeback in a lengthy shootout, grabbing that extra crucial point in the standings.
Colorado have picked up their game considerably with consistency being a huge factor, even without their number one guy on the back end. The Avs are 2-0-1 so far without EJ, it seems as if each defender has kicked up their game a notch. Guys like Holden and Guenin are playing much better hockey than what we saw earlier in the season(we will forget Guenin’s major gaff in Dallas last game, for now). If the offensive guys get going, especially on the power play, Colorado will make a real push for the post-season.
The Avs are finally ending up on the winning side of one goal games. They have been lowering shots against which has lead to this big turn around, and a major reason the Avs were able to get back into the playoff picture to begin with. Now heading home to host old rivals Detroit, the Avs have no time for complacency. The playoff race in the west is heating up with numerous teams fighting for a few spots. The Colorado Avalanche are now in 9th place, only 4 points behind 8th, and only 6 points out of 5th place.
Once the condor returns, the Avs instantly become a much better team, but for now they must keep doing what has made them so successful of late. Every game will be of massive importance, let’s see what Colorado can do.
Sebastian Noble is currently in his third year with The Hockey Writers covering the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Liverpool, England, and of course Colorado Avalanche & Florida Panthers supporter. You can follow him on Twitter @SebastianHNoble