Things have not gone well for the Colorado Avalanche this season. Injuries to Steve Downie, Gabriel Landeskog and now Erik Johnson plus the continued holdout of Ryan O’Reilly have made it hard for the team to stay competitive in the early-goings of the season and one of the few bright spots for the team has been the steady play of fourth-year NHLer John Mitchell.
Mitchell ranks third on the Avalanche with four goals and seven points, trailing only established offensive stars Matt Duchene and P.A. Parenteau. The early production is not only surprising but has Mitchell on pace for his best season yet. He is also earning a reputation as one of the toughest players in the league, after taking a puck to the face in a Jan. 24 game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, then returning to the game and scoring a goal in the third period.
A fifth round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2003, Mitchell spent two-and-a-half seasons in Toronto before being traded to the New York Rangers. He had five goals and 16 points for the Rangers last season, and looks poised to blow those numbers out of the water in this shortened season. Playing on a second line with Paul Stastny and David Jones has been a great fit for Mitchell, and while he missed Monday’s game against the Phoenix Coyotes with the flu, he is expected to be back in action tonight against the Minnesota Wild.
The Avalanche need to stop a three-game losing streak before things get out of hand, and will lean on Mitchell, Duchene and Parenteau tonight to start making progress in the wins column.