ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – Minor leaguer Paul Carey slept right through the late-night phone call.
Only when a teammate called back moments later did Carey groggily pick up. Call coach, he was emphatically told at 12:30 a.m.
So, Carey did. A few hours later he was in Colorado, practicing with the Avalanche as he prepared to make his NHL debut on Wednesday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.
Maybe not the ideal time to break in a new forward, but the Avalanche don’t really have a whole lot of choice. With P.A. Parenteau suffering a right knee injury on Monday that will keep him out at least four weeks and Paul Stastny already sidelined because of a balky back, Colorado desperately needs scorers.
Carey’s hoping to answer this call.
“I think it’s pretty special to come into this lineup to try and help out,” said Carey, who was playing for the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.
For the moment, Carey will be paired on the fourth line with Patrick Bordeleau and Brad Malone, who also was recalled from Lake Erie. But that could change.
The rash of injuries has forced coach Patrick Roy to tinker and re-tinker with his line combinations up front.
This much Roy’s certain: No matter who’s paired with whom, “we’re not going to change our style,” Roy said.
“All year, we’ve found a way to go through adversity,” he added. “We’ve always managed to play well when we were missing players. It shows the depth on our team and the confidence we have in our guys. It’s an opportunity for our guys to take advantage of the situation.”
The Avs trail Central Division-leading St. Louis by five points and second place Chicago by a point as they try to make the post-season for the first time since 2010.
“We’ll see how it goes,” Roy said with a shrug. “Who would’ve thought the Avalanche would be (this close) from first overall? This is quite a story right now.”
The injury-riddled Avalanche are trying to hold it together down the stretch. They’re already without Alex Tanguay, who’s out with knee and hip injuries. There went one of the team’s top passers.
On Monday, another solid distributor of the puck was sidelined when Parenteau sprained his MCL during a mid-ice collision early in an overtime win against Winnipeg. Parenteau has 14 goals and 19 assists this season.
“We can’t replace a guy like P.A.,” rookie Nathan MacKinnon said. “He’s such a good passer, makes whoever he’s playing with a lot better.
“If before some guys were winning us games with big nights, it’s not going to be like that. It’s going to be a lot of grinding and good system work, try to get as many wins as possible with these guys out.”
Defenceman Erik Johnson couldn’t agree more.
“There’s no time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Johnson said. “We can’t worry about who we don’t have. We have to worry about who we have on the ice.”
And that includes Carey, a fifth-round selection in the 2007 entry draft who helped Boston College to an NCAA title during the 2009-10 season. The 25-year-old Carey had eight goals and 13 assists in 54 games for Lake Erie this season.
Roy acknowledged he doesn’t really know that much about Carey’s game, only that he’s “a fast skater.”
“Tomorrow is a chance for guys like Carey and Malone to play. We’ll see how it goes,” Roy said. “We’ll stay the same—take it one day at a time, remain even keel.”
NOTES: Reto Berra, acquired in a trade with Calgary on March 5, arrived in town on Monday after clearing up some travel issues. “For me, it’s a great opportunity,” he said. … Roy made it clear that Jean-Sebastien Giguere is still the backup to Semyon Varlamov, even with Berra’s arrival. Roy said the plan is to have Berra work with goaltender coach Francois Allaire.