Welcome back to hockey! I hope everyone had a nice holiday break.
Tonight, it's onward and hopefully upward for the Colorado Avalanche as they take on the Chicago Blackhawks in a somewhat mostly technically home game. Let's put it this way - the contest will be held in Denver, but whether or not there are more Avs than Hawks fans in attendance is yet to be seen.
Either way, if the team from Colorado plays like they did against the Blues on Tuesday night, those invading Hawks fans will go home crying. There's no doubt that last game was the Avs' most complete effort of the season. They completely embarrassed the opposition for the first 40 minutes and merely shut them down for the next 20, resulting in a statement 5-0 win and adding to what's now a six game point streak. If the Avs can keep the good feels going, they MIGHT be able to crawl back into playoff contention. We're still a long ways out, but a good run could do wonders for us.
The Hawks have very little to worry about on that front. They're sitting at the tippy top of the Division and second in the Conference. They got torched at home against Winnipeg on Tuesday 5-1, but they're 7-2-1 in their last 10. Patrick Kane is up to his normal Patrick Kaneiness atop their scoring leaderboard with 36 pts in 35 games, but Toews and Versteeg have more points than any of the Avs. Such is life this season.
Spotlight On: Avs Goal Droughts
On that note, yes, Duchene, Landeskog, and MacKinnon, I'm talking about you. Shootout goals are nice and all, but something during the actual game would be even better.
Duchene has 1 goal in his past 8 games, and has been dry for the last 5. He did get an assist on the Erik Johnson goal on Tuesday, but he's not putting up many points right now. This is pretty par for the course with him - he's went on a 1 goal in 23 game run last year - but it'd be lovely to see him net at least one tonight. He has to lead the NHL in shots off the post.
The Captain has been scoreless since Nov. 29th against Dallas, 10 games ago. He had two outstanding chances Tuesday that just barely didn't make it in, so he should be getting close. His puck luck is wretched right now, as evidenced by his PDO of 97.5. At some point, something's gotta give for Landy.
MacKinnon's dry spell is a bit more troubling. He's in a wicked sophomore slump and hasn't scored in 16 games, plus has only 1 goal in his last 21. The last time he netted one was 2 weeks before Thanksgiving (of the American sort), so it's been a while. He looked great against the Blues, so with any luck, this cold snap ends this evening. It'd be nice for the kid to get a belated Christmas present.
Iginla and Tangauy are pretty hot right now, but O'Reilly only has 2 goals in his past 9 games. Especially without much depth scoring, the lack of goals from the top 6 has been a large part of the struggle this season.
MacKinnon - Duchene - Talbot
Tanguay - Mitchell - Iginla
Landeskog - O'Reilly - Briere
McLeod - Cliche - Everberg
EJ - Hejda
Barrie - Guenin
Stuart - Redmond
Saad - Toews - Hossa
Kane - Versteeg - Sharp
Shaw - Bickell - Carcillo
Kruger - Smith - Nordstrom
Seabrook - Keith
Hjalmarsson - Oduya
Rundblad - Rozsival
Crawford or Raanta
Last Year: 4-1-0 against CHI
This Year: 1 GP, a 2-3 loss on Nov. 26
After Tonight: 3 games remaining
Avalanche vs. Blackhawks
Pepsi Center (and/or speed induced trans-dimensional shift)
7:00 PM MT
Broadcast on Altitude