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Game 70 Preview: Avalanche Road Trip Starts in Arizona

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The Avalanche start their "do or die" road trip in Arizona.

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Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Last time these two team's met, the Colorado Avalanche (32-26-11) dominated the Arizona Coyotes (21-41-8) to the tune of a 5-2 victory and a ZERO shots against 2nd period.  Since then the Coyotes have gone full tank mode, outpacing even the Edmonton Oilers in the race for Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel.  At the NHL's trade deadline, the Coyotes ditched a number of their more productive players, sending Keith Yandle to the New York Rangers for a large package of futures, Antoine Vermette to the Chicago Blackhawks for picks, Zbynek Michalek to the St. Louis Blues for a prospect, and Rob Klikhammer to the Penguins for a draft pick.  After stacking up on prospects, the Coyotes grabbed a few players off waivers and started their death march with what is certainly the worst non-Buffalo Sabres roster in the NHL.  The Coyotes have learned one valuable lesson, however, if you're going to play bad hockey, you better look good doing it.

On the other side of the ice, the Avalanche are at the beginning of a critical final stretch of 13 games which could see them sneaking into the playoffs, picking in the top 10, or trapped somewhere in between.  There's no return in sight for Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon or for "regulars" Jamie McGinn, Ryan Wilson, Patrick Bordeleau, and Jessie Winchester, but Erik Johnson is on the mend and may return on the upcoming roadtrip after missing almost 2-months due to a knee scope.  The porous Avalanche defense has been on life support without Johnson, surviving only due to strong efforts from Tyson Barrie and Semyon Varlamov.  Johnson's injury came in the midst of his first All-Star season, and getting him back in the lineup as soon as possible would be a massive boost to Colorado's playoff hopes.  In the meantime, if the Avalanche want to make the playoffs they have to beat the team's they're supposed to, and that means a victory tonight in Arizona.  There are too many tough games left on the Avs' schedule for them to drop an easy one.

Avalanche Lines:

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O`Reilly - Alex Tanguay

John Mitchell - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Marc Andre Cliche - Dennis Everberg

Jordan Caron - Freddie Hamilton - Daniel Briere

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Jan Hejda - Zach Redmond

Brad Stuart - Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

No word yet on whether Joey Hishon will return to the lineup after his neck/elbow injury last week.  If he does, you can safely bet that he'll replace Daniel Briere in the Avs lineup.

Coyotes Lines:

Tobias Rieder - Mark Arcobello - Shane Doan

Lauri Korpikoski - Kyle Chipchura - Craig Cunningham

Martin Erat - Sam Gagner - David Moss

Tye McGinn - Joe Vitale - B.J. Crombeen

Oliver Ekman-Larson - Michael Stone

John Moore - Klas Dahlbeck

Brandon Gormley - Connor Murphy

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

If you've been an Avs fan for a while, you probably remember when Tyler Arnason was the team's #1 center.  That's pretty much what the Coyotes are going through right now.