The Colorado Avalanche have had a lot of issues with injuries so far this season. With key players such as T.J. Galiardi, Peter Mueller and Kyle Cumiskey still out of action with various ailments, they have had to rely heavily on mid-season call-ups.
Despite all the trouble that the injury bug has brought, the Avalanche are currently in a first-place tie with Vancouver atop the Northwest Division.
Kevin Porter is a big reason why.
Porter started this season on the Avalanche roster, but after going the first six games of the year without a point, he was sent down to Colorado’s American League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters.
Coach Joe Sacco believed Porter, the former Hobey Baker winner out of Michigan, was not ready to compete at the NHL level.
Then the injury bug struck again.
Before Porter could play his first game with the Monsters, he was recalled to the Avalanche to fill an injury void. It didn’t take long for people to realize that the player who was sent down was not the same guy who had just been called up.
Now it is every young hockey player's dream to play in the NHL. Maybe it was a wake up call being sent down, or maybe he realized the opportunity that he had. Whatever the case may be, Porter came back with a bang and hasn’t looked back since.
In his first game back in the line-up, Porter recorded two goals, including the game winner in a 5-0 defeat of the Dallas Stars. Two games later, he had an assist and was a plus-2 in a 5-1 decision over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In all, he has five goals and an assist in the seven games since being called back up. More incredibly, he is tied with Chris Stewart for the team lead in game-winning goals with three apiece.
The other night, after coming back from a 3-1 deficit against the San Jose Sharks, Coach Sacco decided to play Kevin Porter in overtime.
As if straight out of a Hollywood movie, Porter picked up the puck along the boards, made a nice move around the defensemen and cut to the middle on a breakaway.
After a final adjustment to his backhand, he slipped the puck between the legs of Sharks goalie Antero Niittymaki. The Avalanche won the game and Porter was named the games first star.
Kevin Porter wasn’t in Lake Erie long enough to play one game. And if he has his way, he never will.