Is Connor McDavid gone? Can we come out now?
Full disclosure: I didn’t get to watch the third period on Wednesday. I was homeward bound like too many other Coloradoans were and got immediately sucked into family and cocktails. Did I entertain the idea of the Avalanche giving up that lead? Sure, that wasn’t far-fetched. But when I looked at my phone and saw they had given up three goals in the final frame, I may have swore out loud in front of my grandmother.
Colorado will need a better performance to close out tonight’s game, even if it is against an 8-11-2 Vancouver Canucks bearers of the worst goal differential in the NHL. They’ll be doing it without starting goaltender, Semyon Varlamov, who suffered an upper-body injury during Wednesday’s proceedings. In his place will be all-world solid backup Calvin Pickard, who will make his sixth start of the season. Picks sports a .931 save percentage and just a 2.07 goals-against-average. Both of those things are decidedly good.
The Avalanche will also be without surprising rookie AJ Greer, who was sent back to the San Antonio Rampage to make room for goalie Spencer Martin. Though he had just one assist in five games, it was quite clear the 19-year-old from Quebec would be an asset not just in the future, but right now. I don’t expect this is the last we’ve seen of Greer this season.
Other roster news of note? Captain Gabriel Landeskog is skating in practice, but not in tonight’s game. His return looks imminent for this coming Tuesday against the Nashville Predators—and none too soon. His presence in Colorado’s Top-6 is sorely missed.
Rene Bourque also appears to be out for tonight’s contest with some sort of illness. Zika? Bird flu? Who knows. The Avalanche certainly aren’t telling. In his place should be Mikhail Grigorenko, who sat out the last game due to ineffectiveness. He will be looking to reestablish himself as the solid supplementary piece he was to start the season.
Their opponent? Bo Horvat leads Vancouver in points with a well-rounded seven goals and seven assists in the early going. Just behind him are a couple of guys named Sedin you may have heard of. Typically one passes and the other scores, but right now, they both are doing a fair bit of each. In goal should be veteran Ryan Miller, who has stopped just .910 percentage of shots on goal so far this season and is 3-8-0 on the year.
Overall, the Canucks are a team that’s struggled to score nearly as much as the Avalanche (both are bottom-three in the league). Should be a...uh, barnburner!
Totally Random Guess at Lineup:
Puck drops at 8:00 PM Mountain Standard Time, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO