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Game 27 Preview: Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets

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On the second game of a road back-to-back, the Avs look to rebound after a hard loss to Calgary. There's division points up for grabs here! Remember that time in March when Cody McLeod scored on these guys?

Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Alex Tanguay's dazzling goal aside, the Avs have a lot to be angry about when it comes to yesterday's game. It remains to be seen if they'll turn the frustration into energy or if they'll let it impact their play. The second half of a back-to-back is always rough, especially as the Winnipeg Jets team they'll be facing are nice and rested.

The last time these two teams met, it was a low-scoring affair that ended in a 2-1 victory for Winnipeg.

And a bit of extra sad sauce on the sorrowburger: during our last Colorado/Winnipeg game preview, we speculated Jesse Winchester was soon to return to the lineup. Early December has rolled around and while he's practicing with the team, we still haven't seen him back on the roster. A damn shame and we hope he heals up soon!

While the Avs can claim the dubious honour of being the most injured team of the matchup, if you have a read down at the 'Enemy Info' section, you'll learn that the Jets have had some big injury struggles recently that may give the Avalanche a slight advantage.

Lines

Given this is the second half of a back-to-back, it's unlikely the lines will change that much, although we saw Patrick Roy briefly demote Ryan O'Reilly to the third line against Calgary.

No word yet on whether or not Nick Holden will retain his spot as a forward, but given how few defensemen the Avs have dressed at the moment, that seems likely.

Infantry:

O'Reilly*-Duchene-Tanguay

Landeskog-MacKinnon-Iginla

Vincour-Talbot-Brière*

McLeod-Sgarbossa-Holden

* Brière and O'Reilly spent some time swapped around against Calgary.

Defenders of the Blue Line:

Hejda-Johnson

Guenin-Barrie

Stollery-Nate Nick Redmond

Guardians of the Crease:

Varlamov

Berra

Game Notes

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- The return of Semyon Varlamov in goal didn't come as quite the game changer the Avalanche hoped it would. That being said, he made a couple great saves for a goaltender coming off a groin injury. Though I can't say I was the only one who thought so, I definitely thought he'd need a game or two to get back into the swing of things. Unfortunately, he'll be tired for this one, and wasn't it playing back to back games that aggravated his groin issues last time...?

Other notes:

- Man, young Jets defenseman Jacob Trouba is having a year. He had a 3-point night in the team's last game. You might recall Trouba from the headlines last season: he's the rookie who took a dangerous tumble into the boards and ended up in a neck brace for a while. He rolled with it pretty well.

- Blake Wheeler is a player to watch for the opposition. He can score Alex Tanguay style sneaky goals--people never seem to notice they're leaving him open until too late.

- Tyson Barrie had a painful game against Calgary. Though he leads the team in points, he also had a direct role in two goals against vs. the Flames. We've seen him play competent defense before. Let's hope he can rebound.

- RIP Zach Redmond's moustache.

- Ryan O'Reilly had a quietly decent game against Calgary despite being demoted to the third line. He had two assists and the Flames broadcasters kept pointing out his solid play over the course of the night. Let's hope he continues to impress.

Records

The Jets are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.

The Avs are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games.

Central Division Standings 5th Dec

Enemy Info

The Winnipeg Jets are a team that has struggled perennially, despite having a roster with lots of individual talent. They've got six points on Colorado currently and many are surprised to see them only three points behind the Chicago Blackhawks in the standings. Like the Avalanche, the Jets got off to a very slow start this season, but they have since tightened their game.

Avalanche defenseman Zach Redmond chose to sign with the team rather than re-up with Winnipeg last season because he considered the team "stacked" in defense, and normally they are. They've got some big, competent guys on their roster. Guys like Zach Bogosian, Toby Enstrom, and Grant Clitsome.

Except all three of those guys I just listed are injured.

The Jets will be shifting Dustin Byfuglien from forward back to defense and adding a couple call-ups to the mix to address this sudden gap.

Will the loss of Bogosian, Enstrom, and Clitsome be something the Avalanche are able to use to their advantage? We certainly hope so.

Fun Statistic of Note: Goal Differential

The Avalanche currently have a goal differential of -13. The Jets' is -3. Obviously neither of these is great, but if we break it down into goals for & goals against, it's interesting to look at the numbers as a microcosm of each team's current season:

The Avalanche have scored 70 times but been scored against 83 times.

The Jets have only scored 55 goals but they've held their opponents to 58.

The Avalanche are an offensively-loaded team that are capable of scoring a lot of goals, often depending on scoring a lot of goals as their defensive shortcomings inevitably allow them to be scored upon.

By contract, Winnipeg are a defensively competent team who have 4 wins up on the Avs despite scoring 15 fewer goals.

A simple stat obviously doesn't tell the full story, but it's interesting nonetheless.

3 Questions

1. How many times will the broadcast mention the Byfuglien hit on Tyson Barrie and/or John Mitchell?

Place your bets, kids!

2. How many times will the broadcast mention that Nate Nick Zach Redmond is a former Jet?

Over-under on five?

I'm legitimately sad Nick Redmond won't be making an appearance tonight, because if anyone actually knows his name, it's the broadcast crew of his former team.

3. Y'all ever see Death By Popcorn: The Tragedy of the Winnipeg Jets? Shit is whack.

Game Info

If you're into watching games one of them pictureboxes with the lights and sound and stuff:

Game airs at Friday 5th December @ 6:00PM Mountain / 8:00PM Eastern / 2:00PM Saturday afternoon in Her Majesty's New Zealand, where I'll be watching this baby in the sunshine on my deck.