After a hard-fought loss against the Detroit Red Wings last night, the Colorado Avalanche(12-20-5) will look to turn around quickly against the Phoenix Coyotes (16-15-6). There's really no way to sugar coat things right now, it is bad with a capital B. The Avalanche are 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, they rank 29th in ROW, 27th in goals against, 30th in goals for, and despite picking up a point last night, they remain in last place in the NHL.
While the Avalanche are reeling in the league's basement, the Phoenix Coyotes are fighting for a playoff spot. The Coyotes currently sit in 11th place, but a pair of consecutive wins has them back within just 4 points of the playoff picture. Their playoffs hopes are beginning to fade, and the team will likely come out flying in front of their home crowd as they look for their third consecutive victory.
This will be the second of three meetings between the Avs and Yotes this season. At the time of their first meeting, the Avalanche were 5-5-0, in the hunt for a playoff spot, and missing last season's leading players in Ryan O'Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog. Today those top six forwards are back in the lineup, the Avalanche are 8 games under .500, and riding a three game losing streak. I'm sure we'll take time int he off season to look at exactly where things went wrong, but when all is said and done, Avs fans may remember the first Phoenix game as a microcosm of the season as a whole. In the first meetup the Avalanche A) gave up the first goal, B) played one good period to come back in the game C) let the other team tie it in the last 10 minutes and D) lost on a lucky bounce off of the referee. An all too familiar story for the Avalanche this season.
The playoffs are all but impossible, tanking doesn't guarantee the top pick in the draft and it means very little to the players to play the spoiler. Plain and simple, the Avalanche are playing for their pride.
Players to watch:
Can Matt Duchene and P.A. Parenteau keep up their point per game pace?
Tyson Barrie had an active game in Detroit, can he back up his good play with more points?
Can Gabriel Landeskog respond to a bad game against Detroit and break his 5-game pointless streak?