The Avalanche go for three in a row tonight, as they welcome Marek Svatos and the Nashville Predators to the Pepsi Center. The Svats Machine has missed the last couple of games with a lower body injury and his status for tonight's game is uncertain, but he is traveling with the team and COME ON of COURSE he is going to play. Svats has 3 points in 7 games so far with the Preds.
It's odd that we're into January and we're just seeing Nashville for the first time (we haven't seen Anaheim yet either), and it's shaping up to be a big one for both teams. Nashville has a 2-point lead on Colorado in the standings, but the Avalanche have one more non-shootout win than the Preds. So, a regulation win for the Avs would move them ahead of Nashville in the standings, and give them an early advantage in the potentially important head to head tiebreaker. And yes, we really are talking tiebreakers with 35 games to go in the season.
The are not exactly a perfect cure for the Avs' struggling offense. The Predators rank 3rd in the league in goals against average and 5th in the league on the penalty kill. Goalie Pekka Rinne is having an excellent season, and is hot right now, with a 7-1-0 record and a .953 save percentage in Nashville's last 10 games. The Preds have two hot defensemen right now - Shea Weber has 13 points and Ryan Suter has 8 in the last 10 games. For the Avs, Tomas Fleischmann has 9 points in his last 10, followed by Milan Hejduk with 8. Matt Duchene has 7, but has been scoreless in his last 3. What a great time to break out of that mini-slump, eh?
The big news is that TJ Galiardi has reportedly been sent to Lake Erie and Ryan Stoa has been recalled. The Avalanche did not need to demote Galiardi to make room for Stoa, as they could have placed Ryan O'Reilly on the IR to make room. I think it's pretty clear that the Avs want to give Galiardi a wake up call. It worked out great with Chris Stewart last year. Just for the record, since there was some confusion over this last night: Galiardi does not have to clear waivers to go down to the AHL (or back up) for the rest of this year. He will be eligible for waivers next year, but that's another show. Brandon Yip, who might even be deeper in the doghouse, would have to clear waivers, so the Avs would risk losing him if they tried to send him down.
And Kyle Cumiskey is expected to play for the first time since suffering a concussion on October 30th after receiving a hard check by RJ Umberger. With that and the Stoa / Galiardi swap, your guess is as good as mine to the lineups used tonight. Craig Anderson will start, though.
Predators vs Avalanche coverage
|Duchene||43 pts||Top Scorer||Weber||28 pts|