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Former first-round draft pick Joey Hishon will make his NHL debut in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Associated Press file,

Avs first-round pick takes Barrie's roster spot for NHL debut

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT
  • Star Tribune
  • April 24, 2014 - 8:07 AM

Patrick Roy viewed it as an opportunity, not as a hardship. The Colorado coach said he doesn’t think Joey Hishon — or anyone else — should be bothered by the fact that the young Avalanche center will make his NHL debut in a playoff game.

Hishon, 22, was surprised to get called up Tuesday from Lake Erie of the AHL. After watching him in practice Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center, Roy said the first-round pick in the 2010 draft will center the Avs’ fourth line in Thursday’s Game 4 against the Wild. Hishon also will skate on the power play, filling in for injured defenseman Tyson Barrie.

“You don’t always pick the right time to start [an NHL career], but it happened,’’ Roy said. “This is an opportunity for him. Joey’s dream is to play in the NHL one day. Here it is. He has a chance to do it, and with our situation, why not?’’

With several players sidelined by injuries — including leading scorer Matt Duchene — Roy was looking for a way to inject more firepower into his team’s offense. Hishon, the 17th overall draft pick in 2010, is known as a gifted playmaker and skilled stickhandler.

His ascent to the NHL has been delayed by a string of injuries, including a concussion caused by an illegal head shot in 2011 that kept Hishon out of the game for nearly two years.

“I can’t even explain the emotion,’’ said Hishon, who has 10 goals and 14 assists in 50 games this season. “The guys will help me, and I’ll make the adjustment as well as I can.

“Patrick pulled me aside before practice and said, ‘Don’t ease into it. Just play and be confident and work hard, and everything will be fine.’ So that’s what I’m trying to do.’’

Moving on

Roy reiterated Wednesday that the Avalanche will not seek vengeance in Game 4 for the hit by Wild winger Matt Cooke that took out Barrie. While several players still were upset about it — including Bloomington native Erik Johnson, who called the knee-on-knee hit “disgusting’’ — they and their coach shied away from any talk of revenge.

“Right now, we’re focusing on the things we can do, the adjustments that have to be made and how we want to play,’’ Roy said. “The key is to make sure we’re focused on playing a solid game.’’

Forward Nathan MacKinnon acknowledged that Barrie’s absence will hurt but added that lingering anger would not be productive. “We can’t dwell on it,’’ MacKinnon said. “We have to move on.’’

Awards season

MacKinnon on Wednesday was named one of three finalists for the NHL’s Calder Memorial Trophy, given to the league’s rookie of the year. He is a heavy favorite to win the award over Tampa Bay forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat.

The No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft, MacKinnon, 18, led NHL rookies in goals (24), assists (39), points (63), power-play goals (eight) and game-winning goals (five). His 13-game point streak also broke Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record for longest single-season point streak by a player age 18 or younger. The winner will be announced in June in Las Vegas.

“It’s pretty cool,’’ MacKinnon said. “It’s always fun to go back to Vegas. I watched [the awards ceremony] on TV growing up, so it’s going to be fun to go.’’

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