Needless to say, things have not been coming up Colorado lately. The Avalanche have stumbled out of the gate to an underwhelming 4-6 start, their wins have come against fellow bottom-feeders Columbus, LA and Calgary (plus a mediocre Edmonton team), and they're decimated by injuries. In a somewhat unbelievable turn of events, the Avs lost another player to injury this week despite, well... not playing any games. Matt Hunwick will miss Monday's game with a torso injury and force Tyson Barrie back into the lineup. That leaves the Avalanche without: Gabriel Landeskog (concussion), Ryan O`Reilly (contract), Steve Downie (ACL), Ryan Wilson (knee), and Matt Hunwick (torso) in total. But whether it's Landeskog's noggin or O'Reilly's pride, the NHL waits for no one and injuries or no, the Avalanche will ice a team tonight with the ability, and responsibility to win a game on home ice for their fans.
Tonight the Avs (4-6) will square off against fellow slow starter Phoenix (5-5-2). The Avs offense has been unimpressive so far this season with 3 shutouts against and a league-worst 9.1% conversion rate on the power play and they will be looking to turn it around against a defensive minded Coyotes team. Fortunately for the Avs, this traditionally stingy Coyotes defense has been allowing more goals (2.67 per game) than usual and their goaltending tandem has looked suspect at times. Ex-Av Radim Vrbata leads the Coyotes into Denver with 3 goals and 11 points and will look to add a few more against his former team as the Coyotes look to stay above .500.
Adrian Dater at the Denver Post confirmed that Aaron Palushaj will play his first game in an Avalanche uniform, Tyson Barrie will return to the lineup in Matt Hunwick's place, and Semyon Varlamov will start in net. Although it's unconfirmed, Mike Smith is the likely starter for Phoenix.
While things may seem bleak, a win tonight would put the Avs just 3 points out of the playoffs with a game in hand on most of their Western Conference opponents. So, as always....
Lets Go Avs.
What to watch for:
1st Goals: Patrick Bordeleau, Michael Sgarbossa, and Tyson Barrie are all still looking for their first NHL point. Meanwhile Aaron Palushakj, Chuck Kobasew, Mark Olver and the entire Avalanche defensive unit are still looking for their first goals of the season.
Matt Duchene: The young center has played well for the Avs so far and he seems to be meshing well with linemate P.A. Parenteau, but his production is a little heavy on the assist side. Duchene is tied with Jamie McGinn for 2nd in shots on goal (29) and the Avs offensive drought will come to a quick close if he can start finding the back of the net for himself.
Goals: Just... Goals! It seems hard to remember what an Avalanche goal even looks like, or sounds like, or feels like. If the Avalanche can score more goals than the Coyotes tonight, they just might stand a chance.
Game Time: 7:00 pm MT, 3:00 GMT TV: ALT, Radio: ALT Radio with Moser