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Game 22 Preview: Avalanche at Kings

After a strange game in the desert, the Colorado Avalanche head west to take on the Los Angeles Kings.

I normally pick these pictures so that the jerseys match the game's location, but this goal by Ryan O'Reilly is just too good to pass up.
I normally pick these pictures so that the jerseys match the game's location, but this goal by Ryan O'Reilly is just too good to pass up.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

With a franchise best 16-5-0 start to the season, and a league leading 16 regulation and overtime wins, the Colorado Avalanche have really pulled away from the pack and established themselves as playoff powerhouses.  Well, the franchise best start is true, but the rest? See for yourself:


GP W L OT ROW Points
Anaheim 25 16 6 3 15 35
Chicago 23 15 4 4 12 34
St. Louis 21 15 3 3 12 33
San Jose 21 14 3 5 13 33
Colorado 21 16 5 0 16 32
Phoenix 22 14 4 4 10 32
Minnesota 23 14 5 4 12 32
Los Angeles 23 15 6 2 11 32
Vancouver 24 12 8 4 11 28

Gee wiz, that is one hell of a meritocracy.  A couple of highlights here, the western conference playoff group spans a range of just 3 points.  Colorado, Phoenix, Minnesota and Los Angeles are all tied, despite a difference of SIX ROW'S.  The worst offenders, Phoenix and LA have picked up a disheartening 12 and 10 points off their combined efforts to lose AFTER 60 minutes and/or win the end of overtime coin toss.

Team Wins ROWS % of Points Earned in ROW's
Anaheim 16 15 85.71
Chicago 15 12 70.59
St. Louis 15 12 72.72
San Jose 14 13 78.78
Colorado 16 16 100
Phoenix 14 10 62.5
Minnesota 14 12 75
Los Angeles 15 11 68.75
Vancouver 12 11 78.57

That's a whole heck of a lot of parity points being tossed around by Bettman and Co.  Whatever your stance on the value of the loser point and the shootout, we can all agree that the Avs have certainly gone about collecting points in the hardest way possible. (The Avalanche currently lead the DCGOCKHL Don Cherry Good Ol' Canadian Kid Hockey League).  But, since there's no end to the loser point in sight, the Avs will just have to keep on whipping the rest of the NHL at good old fashioned regulation hockey, which brings us to tonight's game.

After a slow start to the 2013-2014 season the Los Angeles Kings have started to find their game, going an impressive 7-1-2 in their last 10 games.  One would think that after trading Jonathan Bernier in the offseason and losing Jonathan Quick to a groin injury earlier this month the Kings pace would slow, but Ben Scrivens has been excellent:

2013 - Ben Scrivens 10 462 5 1 11 1.43 190 179 .942 3

Like.... really excellent.  How LA, Minnesota and Anaheim can all have dozens of starting goalies in their respective systems, all just waiting for an injury so they can light the NHL on fire is baffling to me, but thats the breaks.

Like the Avalanche, the Kings are coming off of a bizarre Thursday night game, in which they absolutely dominated the New Jersey Devils and somehow managed a loss (don't cry too hard, they still got the coveted loser point. Why? Because of course they did).  In that game the Kings outshot the Devils 14-2 in the first, 13-3 in the second, and were outshot 5-7 in the third.  On the Devils 15th shot of the night (which came in OT) they took the win.  It will be interesting to see how the Kings respond to that loss in tonight's game, hopefully they take a page out of New Jersey's playbook and decide that shooting less is the key to winning.

On our side, the Avalanche are looking for their third straight win and a perfect record on this brief Western Conference road-trip.

Projected Lineup Avalanche:

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Ryan O`Reilly

Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - PA Parenteau

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Max Talbot

Patrick Bordeleau - Marc Andre Cliche - Brad Malone

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Cory Sarich - Andre Benoit

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

J.S. Giguere

Injuries: Alex Tangay (knee), Ryan Wilson (back)

Scratches: Matt Duchene (obliques), Nick Holden

Project Lineup Kings Bad Guys:

Brown - Kopitar - Williams

King - Richards - Toffoli

Carcillo - Stoll - Frattin

Pearson - Vey - Lewis

Muzzin - Doughty

Regeher - Voynov

Mitchell - Martinez



Injuries: Carter, Quick, Greenel, Clifford

Scratches: Fraser, Nolan

Players to Watch For:

- Despite not registering a point, Nathan MacKinnon has been electric since taking over for Matt Duchene on the top line.  We keep saying he's bound to breakthrough soon, and the math suggest that's true, because come on, he's not going to shoot at 4.8% for the rest of his career right? RIGHT?

- Gabe Landeskog, the captain had a less than spectacular game against Phoenix, but he's celebrating his 21st birthday tonight against the Kings, lets hope he celebrates with lots of goals.

- Cody McLeod, he's scored in every game since being promoted to the third line.  Great to see the Highlander finally getting the ice time he deserves.

- Peter McNab: Unless his voice is significantly better, I'm watching this one on mute.

Puck drops at 8:30 (MST) 10:30 (EST). Wait seriously? Ugh

Broadcast: Altitude TV