Game 57 Preview - Avalanche at Flyers

Paul Bereswill

The Avs look to rebound from a disappointing loss to the Rangers on Tuesday with a series sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Last Time They Met: January 2nd at the Pepsi Center. The difference in the game was a lovely little shot by O'Reilly that whooptiedoo'd over Mason's head before heading into the net. Varly was awesome, McGinn had a goal, and Duchene looked like he'd score all the things but didn't. Avs won 2-1.

Last Time They Met in Philly: Jeff Carter had two goals and Mike Richards had two assists for Philly as the Flyers beat the Avs 4-2 on October 11, 2010. Yip and Hejduk had the two goals for the Avs. There are only 5 players still with the Avs from that night's roster. So.... yeah, it's been a while.

This is the first time these two teams have ever played a home-and-home season series and only the 11th time they've played in Philly since the Avs relocated in '95. The Avs have a winning road record though, going 6-4-0 against the Flyers on their home ice.

Catching Up With Philly: The Flyers currently sit at 62pts in 57 games, good for 4th in the ugly stupid dumb Metro division and 9th in the East. A win tonight would push them into that coveted 3rd divisional playoff spot over 'Lumbus, so they're going to be bringing their all. It would also mean that Detroit drops to 9th, which provides a nice little consolation prize for the Avs even if things do go wrong because fuck the wings.

Anywho, Philly is 4-4-2 in their last 10 and just got back from a Cali road trip. They lost to the league-best Ducks 3-5 (slackers), then managed a WHOPPING THIRTEEN (13!!!) shots against LA two days later. Barn burner, right? Yeah.... Philly still won 2-0 because the universe hates the Kings right now. Would pointing and laughing at LA be mean? Probably. Darn. Anyway, the Flyers finished up the road trip with a nice 5-2 win over the Sharks that allowed the Avs to jump San Jose in the standings. So, thanks for that.

Their leading scorer right now is the great Canadian Olympian snub Claude Giroux (18G / 37A / 55pts in 57 GP), followed by Wayne Simmons (18G / 22A / 40pts in 57GP) and Jakub Voracek (15G / 24A / 39pts in 57 GP). Steve Mason is currently boppin' along at a 2.53 GAA (23rd) and .916 sv% (20th). Considering the normal tire-fire that is the Philadelphia net, the fact that he and backup Ray Emery are stopping 92.3% of even strength pucks is pretty remarkable, even if it is only 16th in the league. They were 27th last year and 22nd the year before, so, baby steps.

Between tumbles to the ice, #Hartnelldown has scored 6pts in his last 4 games, and Giroux has 8 in his last four. Brayden Schenn on the other hand hasn't scored in 5 games. We might want to watch out for that. Flyers fans also think Kimmo Timonen is doing a good enough job to be re-signed on their top pair, even though he's currently day-to-day with a foot injury. He practiced with the team on Wednesday and is questionable for tonight.

The lines from last game were as such:

Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Vincent Lecavalier - Wayne Simmons

Steve Downie - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Michael Raffl - Zac Rinaldo - Adam Hall

Braydon Coburn - Nicklas Grossmann

Mark Streit - Andrej Meszaros

Luke Schenn - Erik Gustafsson

Steve Mason

Since the Flyers haven't played in 3 nights, I'd guess the lineup should be mostly the same. Timonen may rejoin the lineup, but will likely be a game-time decision.

Catching Up with the Avs: AHHHH EVERYONE PANIC! The Avs lost their last game 5-1 against the Rangers on Tuesday! They looked tired on their 3rd road game in 4 nights! Never mind the fact that they'd won 4 in a row, are 7-3-0 in their last 10, have a 99.949% chance of making the playoffs, are 5th in the league, and hold the 4th highest ROW count in the NHL. THE WORLD IS ENDING!!!!

Okay, so I might be exaggerating just a little, but the game on Tuesday was a stinker. The team will be looking to bounce back tonight and lock in 2 more points before the Olympic break. We're currently sitting 3rd in the Central with 77pts in 56GP. St. Louis is only 3 points ahead of us with 1 game in hand, and Chicago is 7 ahead with 3 more games played. Considering how we play both teams twice more before the end of the year, the Avs could hypothetically steal the Central Division title, but gaining points tonight is pretty important to stay in that race.

Winning is weird. I like it. Avs, more please.

According to the media notes for tonight, certain Avs are "Going Streaking" including Captain Gabe Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon. Kids these days, right? Their indecency might have something to do with the 3G / 6A / 9pts they've each scored in the past 7- and 6-consecutive games, respectively, but who knows with the Calder Connection. Mac currently leads all rookies with 42pts in 56GP and sits 3rd on the Avs.

On the other hand, there's Matt Duchene, who, while posting 17 points in his last 22 GP, has only scored once during that time. He's had 65 SOG and is managing a 1.5% shooting rate over that period (10.1% on the season). Upside: he's finally learned how to use his linemates, including Ryan O'Reilly who leads the team with 21 goals. Downside: the poor guy looks about ready to snap. He and his line were -5 on Tuesday as well, only adding to his frustration. He still leads the team with 17G / 31A / 48pts in 53 games, but Landeskog is only 3 points behind, MacKinnon is 6, and Stastny and O'Reilly are 8. It would be great if he got career goal #100 before heading to Sochi.

Speaking of career marks, Parenteau's next point will be #200 for him.

Varlamov has been outstanding all year, and despite allowing 5 on Tuesday is still ranked 20th in GAA (2.49) and 9th in Sv% (.924). He's also 2nd in wins with 28. Only Mike Smith has seen more rubber this year than Varly, facing 35 more shots across 2 more games. #VarlyVarly is expected to start tonight.

Alex Tanguay re-injured his knee against Minnesota on Jan 30th and is questionable for tonight. He traveled with the team, but may not play until after the Olympic break. Cory Sarich is also still sidelined with back problems.

Expected Lineup:

Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Jamie McGinn

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - P.A. Parenteau

John Mitchell - Nathan MacKinnon - Max Talbot

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Patrick Bordeleau

Erik Johnson - Jan Hejda

Tyson Barrie - Nick Holden

Andre Benoit - Nate Guenin

Semyon Varlamov

Sochi Bound: There will be 9 Olympians in action tonight (10 if Giroux is selected as an injury fill-in for Team Canada). Those players are:

Michael Raffl (Austria), Matt Duchene (Canada), Jakub Voracek (Czech Republic), Kimmo Timonen (Finland), Semyon Varlamov (Russia), Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia), Gabe Landeskog (Sweden), Mark Streit (Switzerland), and Paul Stastny (United States).

Puck Drop: 5PM Mountain Time.  Broadcast on Altitude.

Philly Perspective:  Broad Street Hockey

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