Four. Four points separate dead last and second place in the Central Division as the St. Louis Blues sit seven points ahead of the pack. The Colorado Avalanche look to stay afloat after their 6-3 win against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday night. Tonight will be the first of 2 meetings against the Carolina Hurricanes. The Cans were toppled by the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout last Sunday. The Avs have posted a 10-7-2 record against the historically mediocre Canes.
It is a good thing this game is at the Can, considering the Avs have posted a 2-4-0 record on the road compared to a 4-1-0 record at home. The Canes are 3-2-0 on the road coming into tonight’s game
The Avs have continually shown they can be an offensive powerhouse, never lighting the lamp less than 3 times at home. Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon both posted 3 point games against Chicago, both 2 goals, one assist. 7 different Avs racked up at least a point in that game so hopefully, the injury-ridden Avalanche can keep up the production and look to their stars to make things happen.
Tyson Jost (lower body, 2 weeks), J.T. Compher (finger, 3 weeks), Colin Wilson (hip, IR) and Gabriel Bourque (upper body, IR) are all off of the table. That said, expect the lines to look a lot like they did against Chicago:
The added size Landeskog brings to the first line looks to be just what the doctor ordered to kick-start the production for MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen considering he played a significant part in 3 of that line’s 3 goals. Grimaldi earned himself 2 points in his debut game for the Avs, fitting in nicely with the speed and skill of Sven Andrighetto and Matt Duchene.
Nikita Zadorov has been a healthy scratch for the past 2 games. And now it looks like it will be three in a row as BSN Denver is reporting that the team will go with the same lineup as they had against Chicago. That means Zadorov and Chris Bigras will be scratched again tonight
The Hurricanes look to stay above .500 on the season as they come into tonight’s game posting a 4-4-2 record, good for second last in the Metropolitan division. Recent injury troubles have caused the Hurricanes to recall forward Patrick Brown from the Charlotte Checkers, the Canes’ AHL affiliate. Lee Stempniak (hip/back, day-to-day) was not ready to travel with the team after being sidelined since the beginning of the season. Brett Pesce suffered a concussion against the Ducks Sunday and will not travel with the team either. As a replacement, Roland McKeown was recalled.
The Canes forward lines should look a bit like:
Sebastian Aho - Jordan Staal - Elias Lindholm
Teuvo Teravainen - Victor Rask - Justin Williams
Jeff Skinner - Derek Ryan - Josh Jooris
Joakim Nordstrom - Markus Kruger - Brock McGinn
Scratched: Patrick Brown
Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters fiddled a bit with the defensive pairings in Sunday's contest. Without Brett Pesce, they should be:
Justin Faulk - Haydn Fleury
Jaccob Slavin - Rolan McKeown
Noah Hanifin - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Pesce took a puck to the head after it rolled up his stick during a practice and left the ice immediately.
Expect Semyon Varlamov to get the start tonight as Jonathan Bernier played the second leg of yet another back-to-back. He enters this game 4-3, posting a 3.01 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
Scott Darling will start tonight, going 3-3-2 in 8 contests. He has a 2.90 GAA and a slightly worse .897 save percentage.
How to Watch/Listen
As per usual, the game is going to be broadcast on Altitude at 7:00 pm. Marc Moser will be calling the game on Altitude Sports Radio 950AM.