NHL Buzz: Marner returns to practice for Maple Leafs

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Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Mitchell Marner practiced on Sunday for the first time since injuring his shoulder in a collision during practice with defenseman Jake Muzzin on Dec. 3.

The forward has scored 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 24 games. He missed six games with the injury before Toronto had five games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. 

“His rehab was upended by the shutdown and the pause in our activities,” general manager Kyle Dubas said Sunday after the team completed its first practice since being shut down due to the outbreak. “It was good to see him out there in practice today but certainly not a player we would rush along whatsoever. It’s tough to predict at this point. After a few more days of practice, we would have a better read on that but certainly to see him out in practice today was a step in the right direction.”

Center John Tavares, who was placed in COVID-19 protocol on Dec. 17, also returned to practice Sunday. He said he experienced a strong headache, body aches and a lot of fatigue on Dec. 18 but began feeling much better the following day.

“Everything felt like it was moving very fast and I wasn’t moving very fast myself,” Tavares said. “Obviously I was just trying to get my heart rate up and fight through the fatigue. It was just knocking some of the rust off and trying to get your timing back. To be expected when I haven’t skated in nine or 10 days roughly.”

Tavares has scored 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 29 games. — Dave McCarthy

Colorado Avalanche

Gabriel Landeskog practiced Sunday and is expected to return for the home game against the Dallas Stars on Wednesday.

The forward sustained a lower-body injury in the second period in Colorado’s 7-3 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 10.

“That’s a big positive for us, especially with some of the new guys on the [COVID-19] protocol list,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “We first pegged his injury at about two weeks, right before Christmas, and he was feeling good. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had a lot of practice time, but now with the game (Monday against the Vegas Golden Knights) being rescheduled, he should be really good to go for [Dallas]. So he’ll get three days of practice and the pregame skate if he wants it.”

Landeskog, who has scored 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists) in 22 games, skated Sunday on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Andre Burakovsky. He scored 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in a 10-game point streak from Nov. 22-Dec. 10.

The Avalanche haven’t played since a 5-2 loss to the Nashville Predators on Dec. 16 when six players were in COVID-19 protocol.

The Avalanche announced the following five players are in protocol, along with their projected return dates: defenseman/forward Kurtis MacDermid (Monday), forwards Nazem Kadri (Tuesday), Logan O’Connor (Thursday) and Mikko Rantanen (Friday), and goalie Pavel Francouz (Jan. 5).

Bednar said the Avalanche will recall a goalie and “a forward or two” from Colorado of the American Hockey League. 

“I think we’re going to be good on the back end,” he said. — Rick Sadowski

 

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