Valeri Nichushkin

On Sunday, the Colorado Avalanche, who lead the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2, will try to capture the Stanley Cup by defeating the Lightning at home. A lower-body injury to Valeri Nichushkin means they may have to do so without a key offensive player for the decisive game. Nichuskin’s availability has been called into question with a recent update from TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, who reported that Jared Bednar had stated that the Avalanche were expecting to have him available on Sunday morning.

According to Rishaug, Nichushkin limped past the media room on his way to the rink around two hours before tipoff on Sunday night. Nichushkin apparently had a bath slipper on his right foot as he limped by the journalists.

That’s a bad sign for Nichushkin’s chances of making it to Sunday night’s match. Andre Burakovsky, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nazem Kadri were all absent from the Avs’ morning skate, meaning he may be forced to miss a playoff game for the first time this playoff.

The Avs’ postseason run would not be complete without Nichushkin. The forward for the Avalanche has 15 points (9 goals, 6 assists) in 19 games in the playoffs thus far. It has been a constant threat to score for him this postseason, with 68 shots on target.

Valeri Nichushkin

So it appears that Nichushkin will be an Avs game-time decision on Sunday, even if Bednar hasn’t officially ruled him out yet. In the absence of him, it will be a huge loss for Colorado, especially on the road against one of the best goalies in the world in Andrei Vasilevskiy.

In an encouraging development for the Avs, Nichushkin skated during warmups and appears to be able to participate in Game 6. This game will be his first without any constraints, but that is still up in the air.

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