Hot off a big win in Buffalo, New York, the Avalanche have an extremely quick turnaround as they face the Detroit Red Wings early this evening. While the Avalanche (11-13-8) have struggled mightily this season, the Red Wings (17-8-8) have played strong hockey and currently sit 3rd in the Atlantic division. It's one thing to take a rested team into New York and beat the basement dwelling Sabres, it's another to turn around the next night and beat a rested playoff team. Making matters more difficult; due to Reto Berra's inability to make stops at an NHL level, rookie sensation Calvin Pickard will play for a second consecutive night. Historically, starting a goalie two nights in a row leads to lower SV%'s on the second night, but so far Pickard has been impervious to all of the poor odds stacked against him. Keep the feel-good-train rollin Picks. We <3 U.
Current Calder front-runner Jimmy Howard is day-to-day with a lower body injury, while Jonas the Hype-Monster Gustavsson is out with a dislocated shoulder. That means that Calvin Pickard will likely battle another 22-year old rookie goaltender in Petr Mrazek. In 5 games so far this season Mrazek has 3 wins, a .922 SV%, and a 2.54 GAA. Captain Pickard meanwhile is 5-5-2 in 12 games with a .936 SV% and a 2.16 GAA. Now seems like as good a time as any to point out that Calvin Pickard's stats are insane. The most baffling part of his stat-line, however, is that despite pulling .936 goaltending, the Avalanche are still just 5-7 under Pickard. Pickard can only do so much from the net, and with his play steady, it's up to the Avalanche's extremely disappointing forward corps to provide goal support.
So Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabe Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly and Jarome Iginla? Consider this a message from Avalanche fans, calling you out. You have to be better. Period.
Detroit Spotlight: Henrik Zetterberg
After all those years and some difficulties with injury last season Zetterberg is back in a big way. The Swedish captain leads the Red Wings in points with 27 (6G-11A), shots (with 20 between him and 2nd place), and he's doing it all with the low, low shooting percentage of 5.7%. In short, if Zetterberg keeps playing the way he's playing, he'll be scoring a lot of goals and a lot of points the rest of the way.
Avalanche Spotlight: Matt Duchene
Duchene showed some flashes of life against Buffalo while playing with Nathan MacKinnon, but the Avs franchise center is really, really struggling to produce points. Duchene is on pace for just 51 points in an 82 game season, the worst production he's ever given the Avalanche while healthy. We saw Duchene hit a cold streak last year, but he kept racking up assists when the goals were hard to come by. Now Duchene has registered a point in just 1 of the last 6 games. Is Duchene a sleeping giant waiting to go on a tear? Or is this the worst year of his young career?
Talbot - Duchene - Mackinnon
Landeskog - O'Reilly - Briere
Tanguay - Mitchell - Iginla
McLeod - Cliche - Bordeleau (facedesk line)
Hejda - Johnson
Guenin - Barrie
Stuart - Redmond
4:00 p.m. MST, 6:00 p.m. EST on Altitude