Despite the injuries, the Avalanche have strung together some wins lately. It's a good thing, too, because they'll need to keep it up with a win tonight against the Montreal Candiens if they expect to get back into the thick of the playoff hunt. While the idea of a playoff appearance might seem far-fetched, it's important to remember that even Stanley Cup Champs have slow starts. In fact, the Kings had incredibly slow starts both seasons they won. Moreover, now that Roy has altered his system from man-to-man to zone coverage, the team looks more steady on the skates. Saturday night saw a confident team that tapped back into the aggressive, speedy identity it had last season. True, it was against another basement dweller that was coming off a back-to-back, but the Stars are more talented than their record shows. Besides, it's not like the powerhouse Blackhawks completely steamrolled the Avs when they were in town.
The last time the Avs and Canadiens met, PK Subban was the difference maker. Well, that and some poor decision making leaving the guy wide open to do his thing. At the time, the Avalanche were drowning in losses. This time around, it's Montreal that hopes to breath some winning air.
The Avs suffered some more injuries (of course) with John Mitchell reinjuring the leg that kept him out previously and Marc-Andre Cliche looking to miss up to two weeks. In response, the Avalanche recalled Mike Sgarbossa and Colin Smith.
From the NHL.com preview:
Canadiens team scope: Montreal got swept in a home-and-home against the Buffalo Sabres. Montreal lost 2-1 on Friday in Buffalo before giving up a third-period lead Saturday night at Bell Centre on the way to a 4-3 shootout loss. Max Pacioretty scored his team-leading 11th goal Saturday. The Canadiens, who signed forward Brendan Gallagher to a six-year extension Saturday, enter Monday on a three-game losing streak (0-2-1), tied for their longest of the season. This is the first of a four-game trip against Western Conference teams.
Avalanche team scope: Colorado has won three of its past four games, averaging more than four goals per game in the victories. Nathan MacKinnon has five assists in the three wins; he was held scoreless in a 3-2 loss against the Chicago Blackahwks on Wednesday. Rookie Calvin Pickard will be in goal against Montreal, his third straight start, coach Patrick Roy said after practice Sunday. Goalie Semyon Varlamov, who is on injured reserve because of a groin injury, might return Thursday against the Calgary Flames, according to Roy. Tyson Barrie had three assists in a 5-2 win Saturday against the Dallas Stars, and has seven points (seven assists) in his past seven games. Center John Mitchell will miss 7-10 days after he re-aggravated a leg injury that had already cost him three games against Dallas, Roy said. Forward Marc-Andre Cliche sustained an undisclosed injury Saturday; he will miss up to two weeks.
7 pm MT, Pepsi Center, ALT, RDS, SNE