The Avalanche are a team looking to snap out of a skid, having lost three straight games and sitting at .500 on the season. The extended break gave the team and coaches time to work through a few issues and hopefully, we will see a rejuvenated Avs team tonight.
In the first meeting between these Central Division rivals, the Stars came out on top 3-1, but the final score doesn’t really indicate how lopsided the game was. The Avs were outshot 36-23 and were physically dominated most of the night. Buoyed by the home crowd, expect the rested Avs team to come out with more of an edge tonight.
Thanks to a run of injuries last week, the lineup will look a little bit different than the last time we saw them as all of A.J. Greer, Gabriel Bourque and Andrei Mironov have been recalled from San Antonio. Greer and Bourque are expected to be in the lineup, but with coach Bednar confirming Chris Bigras will play for Patrik Nemeth, it looks like Mironov is destined for the press box again.
It’s great to see A.J Greer get the call-up as one of the first forwards up from the farm. The 20-year old looked great all summer and was well on his way to making the team before he had his preseason sidetracked by an injury. He’ll bring a physical presence that the team needs and don’t be surprised if we see him parked in front of the net on the team’s 2nd powerplay unit at some point. Based on practice yesterday, it looks like he will start off on the left side of the 3rd line with Alex Kerfoot and either Colin Wilson (who left practice early yesterday) or Gabriel Bourque.
The lines at practice were:
Sven Andrighetto - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - NAil Yakupov
AJ Greer - Alex Kerfoot - Colin Wilson (Bourque)
Matt Nieto (Bourque) - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
With Patrik Nemeth out of the lineup after re-aggravating a shoulder injury he suffered in a fight against the Stars, Chris Bigras will draw back into the lineup to play on the right side next to Mark Barberio. Mironov will be in the press box tonight.
Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Anton Lindholm - Tyson Barrie
Mark Barberio - Chris Bigras
The Avalanche rank 21st on the power play (16.2 percent) and 25th on the penalty kill (75.8 percent).
The Stars enter the game with a 5-3 record but they’ve won five of their past six games. They are a team that many expected to be lead by their offense, but so far this season, they haven’t been blowing anyone’s doors off offensively. It looks like Ken Hitchcock’s defense-first system is having it’s effect on the team as they are currently second in the NHL allowing only 28.3 shots against per game.
Hitchcock has always ensured his team plays a responsible game first and foremost and it looks like that hasn’t changed this time around in Dallas.
As expected, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin lead the team in scoring so far this season and John Klingberg is continuing his ascent into superstardom.
The Stars will be looking to improve their record (1-2) to .500 on the road this season.
Here are the likely lines according to Stars writer Mark Stepneski (@StarsInsideEdge)
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alex Radulov
Devin Shore - Mattias Janmark - Brett Ritchie
Remi Elie - Martin Hanzal - Jason Spezza
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Marc Methot - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Stephen Johns
Esa Lindell - Julius Honka
The Stars rank sixth on the power play (26.1 percent) and third on the penalty kill (90.0 percent).
After having an entire week to rest between starts, Semyon Varlamov will be back in the net for the Avs tonight. He’s been a key factor in three of the team’s four wins posting a .931 sv% and the team will be looking for him to be great again tonight to snap the losing streak.
Across the ice, Ben Bishop will be between the pipes for Dallas. Bishop has won four straight and is 5-1 on the season. He comes into tonight’s game with a .928 sv%.
How to Watch/Listen
As always the game will be on, puck drop at 7:00 pm MDT. For those of you looking for a different perspective, you can catch the Stars FS-Southwest broadcast on NHL.tv
You can also listen to the game with our friend Marc Moser on Altitude Sports Radio 950AM.