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Game Preview: Avalanche Vs. Flames

Yes, these terrible pun headlines are going to continue until Colorado plays some decent hockey. They will only get worse too.

Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

In a battle of basement dwellers, the Colorado Avalanche will welcome the Calgary Flames to town to duke it out for barrel-bottom bragging rights. The Flames come into this game 3-8-1 with a league-worst -23 goal differential. As bad as the Avs have been, they've been losing closer games than Calgary.

A major factor in Calgary's early stumble has been atrocious goaltending. Karri Ramo, Joni Ortio, and (My Name Is) Jonas Hiller have all started games for the Flames this year have combined for an ineffective .866 Save Percentage. Calgary's defense has been slightly disappointing, ranked merely 7th worst in the NHL (56.4 CA60) compared to Colorado's unthinkably outlier-bad 65.3 CA60. After making a major trade this offseason for Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton, I'm sure they expected more at this juncture.

Offensively, Johnny (Hockey) Gaudreau is at a point-per-game pace right now with one goal and eleven assists. Also, destroyer of Avalanche dreams, Jiri Hudler, still plays for the Flames, which means we can expect at least a four-point night from the former Red Wing.

Colorado makes a few more tweaks to its lineup with Brandon Gormley in on defense (hooray) and John Mitchell sitting out with an oblique strain (boo). This means Ben Street, recently called up from the San Antonio Rampage, is likely on the lineup sheet tonight as a starter at 4th-line Center. We also know that Nikita Zadorov will again sit tonight with Nate Guenin. But perhaps most revelatory this morning was the report Matt Duchene will be playing RW on a Dennis Soderberg-centered line tonight. This is perhaps more of a formality, as this was the same arrangement against San Jose over the weekend: Duchene is the offensive zone center and Soderberg takes over those responsibilities in the defensive end. We saw this a lot in 2013 when Duchene played with Ryan O'Reilly on the LW. Should be interesting to watch over the next couple of games.

Now that we know Mitchell is scratched, I think Street subs right into that lineup for #7 and the "4th Line" on that sheet likely gets the "Turd Line" minutes. This is a big opportunity for Mikhail Grigorenko, who was also given some time on the 2nd power play unit today in practice.

Puck drops at 7:10 PM Mountain Standard Time.