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Colorado Avalanche Sorely Miss Alex Tanguay

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COMMENTARY | The Colorado Avalanche have been luckier than some teams with injuries - knock on wood - but they've still had to do without key players. Matt Duchene was out for almost two weeks with an injury to his oblique muscle. Paul Stastny was out for two games with back spasms. Both are back in the Avalanche lineup.

The Avs are still missing Alex Tanguay, though, who suffered a knee injury in the November 2 game against Montreal. And they do miss him. Tanguay was playing on a solid second line centered by Paul Stastny with Gabe Landeskog on left wing.

The 34-year-old Tanguay adds maturity to a very young team. Veterans like Tanguay stabilize the youngsters. They lead. They add the voice of experience. Tanguay also adds the voice of what it means to have the Stanley Cup attitude here in Denver - he's the only player left who was on the 2001 Avs team that took the Cup. (Patrick Roy backstopped them to the Cup, of course, but it makes a difference that he's behind the bench now.) Tanguay knows how to keep cool under pressure - he scored the winning goal for the Avs in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. There's no such thing as more pressure than that!

Cup-winning goal notwithstanding, critics have accused Tanguay of failing to shoot the puck. It's true his goal totals might not be as high as they could be. However, Tanguay is a playmaker. His eyes are like binoculars, seeming to see everything on the ice is detail. How else can he be such a leader in setting up teammates to score? Tanguay has great passing abilities, moving that puck tape-to-tape with insane accuracy.

Tanguay is also a speedy little devil. Coach Roy told reporters in a post-game press conference that the Colorado Avalanche hockey game is about speed. It's obvious he looked to Tanguay for a piece of that.

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon has been in the Stastny line since Tanguay's injury. He's managed quite well. He had the Minnesota Wild's number in their back-to-back games, scoring in both and earning a star of the game in both. Coach Roy even tapped him in the shootout against the Wild. MacKinnon didn't make the play, but he was surprisingly philosophical about the miss. He told reporters in a post-game press conference, " It would have been more fun if I could have scored. But I'm not the first guy to miss in the shootout, and I won't be the last. But it's always tough to miss for sure."

Tanguay skated with coaches Monday, December 1. According to Mike Chambers of The Denver Post, he skated with a brace on his knee. Coach Roy has stated he's not bringing players back until they're 100 percent. Knee injuries are tricky, and players have to be so careful recovering so that a game-ending injury doesn't become career-ending. Tanguay's going to need to do some major reconditioning.

The Colorado Avalanche sorely miss Alex Tanguay. MacKinnon has been great in his spot, but when Tanguay returns, he'll add such depth and maturity. No telling how coach Roy will manipulate the lines, if he'll place Tanguay back opposite Landeskog in Stastny's line. Wherever Tanguay lands, though, he'll be a welcome addition.

Nadia Archuleta is a native Coloradan and professional writer. An Avalanche fan since their beginnings, she has a sports blog, Hockeygrrls, and writes content for several websites.

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