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Game Preview: Colorado Avalanche at the Montreal Canadiens

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The Avs have won two in a row; the Canadiens have won just about every game they've played this season. Uh, oh...

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

First off, I'd like to begin today by honoring those who lost their lives in Paris yesterday. Having been in countless stadiums, restaurants, and rock venues in my lifetime, I take my safety for granted way too often -- not anymore. This is an immeasurable tragedy I'm sure Parisians will not soon forget.

Alas, hockey must still be played. The Avalanche travel to Montreal tonight to take on Les Canadiens after two consecutive victories over Philadelphia and Boston. Colorado will be without its captain and top left-wing, Gabriel Landeskog, after being handed a suspension from the NHL for his open-ice hit Thursday on the Bruins' Brad Marchand. In his place will be Mikhail Grigorenko if today's morning skate lines remain intact. The 21-year old Russian provided the game-winning assist against Boston while filling the void left by Landeskog, feeding a pretty pass to Matt Duchene in the 3rd period after baiting goalie Tuuka Rask from the left circle. This would be Grigorenko's first extended look on Colorado's top line since joining the team this summer. It's a big opportunity and an interesting insight into how the team perceives his impact moving forward.

Moving into the bottom-six opening will be Dennis Everberg, who sat in reserves the previous game. The Avalanche are still waiting for Everberg to fulfill the promise he showed last year before succumbing to injury. The 6'4" Swede is still scoreless since being recalled by the team early in the year and a minus-7.11 5v5 CF%Rel, which is low among Colorado forwards currently on the roster. He will skate on the 4th line with Ben Street and Jack Skille and likely get some penalty kill minutes should that be necessary.

Montreal is off to the fastest start in the league at 13-2-2 despite losing their last game to Pittsburgh 3-4 in overtime. They're led in points by Tomas Plekanec and PK Subban, who have both tallied 16 in 17 games. The highest goal scorers are captain Max Pacioretty and Dale Weiss, who both have lit the lamp eight times to start the season. The team is currently 10th in the NHL in CF% and second in PDO at 103.0. I think the Avalanche would be happy to see their record normalize somewhat this evening -- you know, from Cloud-9 to Cloud-7.76 or so. They'll have their work cut out, though.


Forwards:

Mikhail Grigorenko - Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Duchene

Blake Comeau - Carl Soderberg - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Andreas Martinsen

Dennis Everberg - Ben Street - Jack Skille

*  *  *


Defensemen:

Francois Beauchemin - Erik Johnson

Nick Holden - Tyson Barrie

Brandon Gormley - Nate Guenin

*  *  *

Goalies:

Reto Berra(cade)

Calvin Pickard

*  *  *

Scratches:

Semyon Varlamov (Injured)

Zach Redmond

Gabriel Landeskog (Suspension)

*  *  *

The puck drops at 5:00 PM MST at the Bell Centre in Montreal.