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Predators @ Avs: Round Two

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The Nashville Predators (31-10-6) visit the Colorado Avalanche (20-18-11) to finish off a home-and-home series.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Avs stuck around and picked up a point Tuesday with a late goal from Nick Holden. Unfortunately, some bad defensive positioning in overtime made that just a point. As much as late game heroics are fun to watch, they won't lead to playoff berths if they aren't followed by strong play. The Avs are going to have to step up their game to make that happen.

The Avs defensemen will particularly have to step up their game in Erik Johnson's absence. Nick Holden and Johnson's current replacement, Zach Redmond each had a rather strong game Tuesday. Both may have found some competition though, as defenseman Stefan Elliot was recalled from Lake Erie on Wednesday. While we may assume that Coach Roy will go with seven defensemen for the moment, the most likely candidates for the press box if Roy should choose to go with six defensemen would seem to be either Holden or Redmond given previous trends. We shall see though. This may very well be Elliot's last chance to play for the Avs, as many people expect the 24 year old AHL All-Star to be trade bait with an expiring contract. Thursday's game would be Elliot's first NHL game of the year and only his second in the last two. Let's hope Elliot can spark a depleted d-core.

While this is a straight home-and-home series for the Avs, it is not for the Nashville Predators. The Predators sandwiched a 5-4 shootout loss to the Blues last night inbetween the double-header and will be coming into Denver tired. With Carter Hutton having faced 35 shots and four shootout attempts last night, I would expect for the Preds to send out third string goalie, Marek Mazanec for only the second time this season. Hopefully that bodes well for the Avalanche.

LINES

Tanguay-Duchene-Iginla

Landeskog-O'Reilly-MacKinnon

McLeod-Mitchell-Everberg

Talbot-Cliche

Hejda-Redmond

Barrie-Guenin

Stuart-Holden

Elliot

Varlamov

Berra

With seven denfensemen, I'd expect to see Danny Briere sporting the hair gel.

NOTES

Roman Josi has been bringing up the offense of late. He has four points in the last four games (including a goal against the Avs last game) with 13 shots. He also put a pretty slick move on Brian Elliot last night in the shootout. Not bad for a defenseman. Josi wouldn't be a bad return for an O'Reilly trade if I believed in making that kind of trade within your own division.

Mike Fisher put up three points last night, including a shorthanded-goal, pushing him over the 500 point plateau in his career.

- Hopefully Stefan Elliot's presence can help jump start a bad Colorado power play. The Avs have the third worse power play in the league. Only Edmonton and Buffalo are worse. Not good company to keep.

GAME INFO

Game time: 7pm, MT

TV: ALT