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Game Preview: Avalanche vs Coyotes

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The Avs mailed in their last game before Christmas break against the Maple Leafs. They hope to put together a better effort for their first game back against the Coyotes.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The Avalanche have not been especially good this season, but they are particularly bad against the Toronto Maple Leafs, losing both games by a combined 12-5. The good news? They don't have to play 'em anymore. The bad news? They have to play an Arizona Coyotes squad that beat them early in the year 4-2. Nicklas Grossman scored two goals in the contest and Jordan Martinook would put the game out of reach late in the 3rd Period with an empty-netter.

Despite losing last Monday, Colorado remains one of the hottest teams in the NHL with just three losses in their last ten games. So, just hold the course, right? Wrong! Patrick Roy will be breaking up the top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, and Gabriel Landeskog to incite scoring and "give them a chance to play with different pairings." MacKinnon is the first to get relegated; and a shake-up is likely due given his recent (relative) scoring slump. His new assignment will be to center a line of Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla, or do community service at retirement homes -- I can't remember which. John Mitchell will get the promotion to the top line, freeing up Landeskog to get more involved in the offense.

On the injury front, Nate Guenin will miss this game with a head injury. The team has made no mention of his expected return date; but given that no AHL defenseman was called up in his place, it's likely they don't expect his condition to persist. It's been announced Brandon Gormley will start in his place, alongside Zach Redmond. Reto Berra, however, injured Monday playing soccer before the game, is expected to miss about ten days with a bum ankle. Calvin Pickard, in the meantime, has been recalled from San Antonio in his place. He will back up Semyon Varlamov tonight and get the start against San Jose tomorrow night.

The Avalanche had won four straight against the Coyotes before their loss on November 5th. Arizona is 3-5-2 in their last ten games and has not won a road game since November 19th against Montreal

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Lineups:

Landeskog - Mitchell - Duchene

Comeau - Soderberg - Martinsen

Tanguay - MacKinnon - Iginla

McLeod - Grigorenko - Skille

Defense:

Beauchemin - Johnson

Holden - Barrie

Gormley - Redmond

Goalies:

Varlamov

Pickard

.