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Game 45 Preview: Avalanche at Wild

Tough circumstances for a huge game in the playoff race tonight. Colorado have taken 2 of 3 from Minnesota so far this year, still pulling a point out of the third with a SO loss.

Hannah Foslien

Wild team
You make my heart scream
You make everything
Wild team

Tonight, the Avalanche lose an hour traveling east to play the second game of a back to back. Minnesota were off yesterday, waiting for them. So that's a thing.

Yesterday, Colorado capped off a pretty successful homestand with a pity point against the suddenly hot New York Islanders. 10 points out of 14 is what we wanted and what we got. Today they go back on the road for the first time since that godawful game in Chicago after Christmas. All it takes is a quick look at the standings to see the stakes. The Avs are 3rd in the Central and the Wild are 4th. The gap is 6 points and Colorado has 2 games in hand, but maintaining that third slot in the division is vital to keeping out of the wild card fight with... well, every non-Alberta team in the Pacific.

The Avs lone goal-scorer was the scorching-hot Nathan MacKinnon. He's got 5 goals in 4 games. Gabriel Landeskog was on an 8-game points streak and Paul Stastny has 8 points in the new year already. That's come at the expense of a ten-game goal drought for Matt Duchene as defenses have keyed on him (and his shooting percentage headed back to normal levels), but he still leads the team in points.

Parade to the trainer's table

The Avs called up defenseman Karl Stollery from Lake Erie last night as Tyson Barrie took an awkward crunch into the corner boards and left the game cradling his right... wrist? arm? He came back and finished the game, but is officially considered day to day, so Stollery was called up just in case.

The Avalanche also announced that Guenin has been placed on IR retroactive to 1/4. Obviously it's good news that O'Reilly returns; hopefully he can help get Duchene going again. David Van Der Gulik was also injured against the Isles and missed most all of the third period and OT, but no one has said anything about that as of this writing.

The Wild are also without Zach Parise (and Mikko Koivu and Josh Harding) at the moment ( who unrelatedly became a father of twins the other day, so look for them to rip apart the world juniors in about 18 years). The enemy are coming off an off day. Minnesota won in Phoenix on Thursday and did not practice yesterday. And honestly the Avs lines are not easily discernible. O'Reilly's return complicates the top 6. I don't know what Roy is going to do with McGinn tonight. All the healthy natural wingers are on the left, which is where O'Reilly has been. One thing he has done very consistently is keep certain pairs together, so expect at least to see Stastny stick with Landeskog and Duchene with MacKinnon.

(probably not the correct) Avs lines

O'Reilly - Duchene - MacKinnon
Landeskog - Stastny - Mitchell
McGinn - Cliche - Talbot
McLeod - Malone - Bordeleau

Hejda - Johnson
Sarich - Benoit
Holden Wilson - Stollery


UPDATE: Nick Holden is out tonight for personal reasons. So Ryan Wilson's conditioning stint with the Lake Erie Monsters will come to an end tonight. Hope you're ready, mack truck, and that your hips don't lie.

Catch enemy intelligence in the wires over at eminemilie's Hockey Wilderness. Just don't call them boring.

TV: Altitude, Fox Sports North | 8:00pm EST | 6:00pm MST | 01:00 GMT