The Avalanche swept the Minnesota Wild in the home-and-home series last month, so you know the Adjectives are looking for payback. And as much as we've been complaining about our boys' recent performances, their 6-4-0 record beats the Wild's last ten at 3-6-1. Like by a lot.
Like the Avs, the Wild are hurting for scoring, and also like the Avs, key injuries are playing a part. Losing Mikael Granlund to a concussion has hurt the offense, and while his points were important, it's the combined production his line generated that's been missed. Now that Zach Parise and Jason Pominville are skating with Mikko Koivu, things have dried up a bit. According to Tony Wiseau at Hockey Wilderness, Koivu's growing TOI is a factor in the team's struggles.
In an effort to boost production, the Wild recalled forward Brett Bulmer, but the addition didn't do much in the team's last game against the San Jose Sharks, a 3-1 loss. On Friday, head coach Mike Yeo summoned center Erik Haula from Iowa. Will he make a difference?
Meanwhile, the Avalanche are getting two players off of the injury list in Jan Hejda and Ryan Wilson. While those two won't improve the mediocre offense the team has put forth lately, they will most assuredly help with those goals against. Nate Guenin has been completely outmatched on that top pairing, and the shakiness has trickled all the way down the pairings. Hejda's presence has been desperately missed, and his steady play next to Erik Johnson will shore up some holes for sure.
Ryan Wilson is another story. The defenseman, already plagued with injuries, was meh in training camp and teetered between okay and bad upon his short return. So if he does make it back into the line up, who does he replace? I don't think Guenin has played poorly enough to deserve nachos, and Patrick Roy seems to adore him. Nick Holden has had some good games recently, but Tyson Barrie's offense is needed. Wilson won't bring that element. My guess? He sits out tonight.
Thursday saw the return of Matt Duchene's mojo. The lingering injury and subsequent illness were obvious to everyone as his play was a shadow of what it was prior to his games out. Clearly, he's all better now.
Note: Tonight's trophy night at the Pepsi Center, so be sure to check out the hardward
Projected Lines - Wild
Heatley-Konopka-Bulmer (subject to change)
Projected Lines - Avs
Varlamov (per Dater via Whores)
Scratches: Tanguay (knee/hip), Wilson (healthy?), Malone (healthy)
TV: Altitude; KTVK, Radio: Altitude (7:00 pm MT)
For a view from the other side, check out Hockey Wilderness.