Game 75 Preview: Avalanche at Blue Jackets

Kirk Irwin

The Avalanche look to increase their points lead over the Chicago Blackhawks despite the loss of star center Matt Duchene.

Well folks, home ice advantage in the first round just got even more important. With the loss of Matt Duchene, the Colorado Avalanche are going to want every advantage they can get over the reigning champion Chicago Blackhawks. Matt Duchene has been an enormous part of this team's resurgence so far and quite frankly, the man deserves to be a part of the Avs playoff run. These boys are going to need to rally around eachother harder than they have all season, and Semyon Varlamov will have to steal the show, but I believe this team can still put up a fight, and with a little luck maybe win a first round series. The Avalanche need to win 4 playoff games for Matt Duchene. And then they need to win 12 more. #WinforDutchy

That said, we've still got 8 games left on the regular season schedule, starting with the Columbus Blue Jackets. While the Avalanche are looking to extend their lead over the Chicago Blackhawks for home ice advantage, the Blue Jackets are fighting to A) keep their spot in the playoffs despite a close group of teams in the 7-10 spots and B) beat out the red wings for the right to not play the Bruins. The importance of not playing the Bruins, like the importance of not playing the Blues cannot be overstated. The Blue Jackets are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games while the Avalanche are 6-3-1 and riding a 3-game win streak.

Avalanche Projected Lineup:

With Matt Duchene out of the lineup, Nathan MacKinnon will get a shot to play on the team's top offensive line. It's a wonderful opportunity for MacKinnon to show the Roy and the NHL how much he's grown since he centered the 3rd line on opening night.

Ryan O`Reilly - Nathan MacKinnon - Jamie McGinn (The "Hey you're not Matt line)

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - John Mitchell (The defensive assignments and forechecks 4 dayz line)

Cody McLeod - Marc Andre Cliche - Max Talbot

Patrick Bordeleau - Brad Malone - Paul Carey

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Andre Benoit - Cory Sarich

Semyon Varlamov

Probable BJ's:

Boone Jenner - Ryan Johansen - Nathan Horton

Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Cam Atkinson

R.J. Umberger - Artem Ansimov - Nick Foligno

Blake Comeau - Derek MacKenzie - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - Dalton Prout

Fedor Tyutin - James Wisniewski

Nikita Nikitin - David Savard

Sergei Bobrovsky

Go Avs, go get those BJ's.

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