The Colorado Avalanche will look to bounce back from a disappointing loss to the Coyotes on Wednesday night. They will host the Toronto Maple Leafs who made a very interesting call-up this morning. The Leafs recalled Calvin Pickard from the AHL Marlies.
There is a very good chance that Pickard gets the start tonight as Leafs starter Frederik Andersen played last night. The move is interesting because Pickard hasn’t even been the number one guy with the Marlies. That has been Garret Sparks who has an incredible .936 sv% on the season.
The Avs will need to take advantage of a tired Leafs team. They need to make amends for a very poor performance in their return from the Christmas break. The players have been mentioning the P word, and if that’s going to be a legitimate goal, wins in these situations are imperative.
The Avs need to bounce back in a big way. They can’t afford to have the slow start that we saw on Wednesday night against Arizona.
Mikko Rantanen is riding a seven-game point scoring streak. Riding shotgun with Nathan MacKinnon all season, Rantanen has turned into a legitimate offensive threat that opponents have to worry about on every shift.
The loss of Barrie had a very clear impact on the blueline - and team as a whole. The Avs were unable to generate much offense against the Coyotes and that was led by a stagnant breakout and powerplay.
Andrei Mironov was called up yesterday to replace Tyson Barrie, so coach Bednar has the option to go back to 11 forwards and 7 defensemen if he wants.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - Nail Yakupov
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Sven Andrighetto - J.T. Compher - Colin Wilson
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Mark Barberio
Patrik Nemeth - Anton Lindholm
Toronto Maple Leafs
There are two questions for the Maple Leafs heading into this game. The first is whether Calvin Pickard will be ready to play against his former team. The second is if Nazem Kadri will be healthy enough to slot into his regular role as second-line center.
Kadri was elbowed in the head by Lawson Crouse of the Arizona Coyotes in their game last night. Kadri played 3:36 in the first and did not return. The Leafs did not make a call-up this morning and only have Josh Leivo as a spare winger so the injury doesn’t appear to be long term. Perhaps Kadri will be ready to go tonight.
If Kadri cannot go, here’s what the lineup might look like, with Patrick Marleau moving to center.
Zach Hyman - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
Leo Komarov - Patrick Marleau - Connor Brown
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner
Matt Martin - Dominic Moore - Josh Leivo
Morgan Rielly - Ron Hainsey
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Andreas Borgman - Roman Polak
It is unclear whether Andreas Borgman or Roman Polak will be swapped out for left-shooting Martin Marincin on the second half of a back-to-back. Neither player had a good game against Arizona so a chinge might be coming.
Varlamov will most likely get the nod tonight for Colorado. Varly has been good as of late posting two goals against or fewer in four of his last five games. He gave up three goals on 27 shots against Arizona two days ago. In those five games Varlamov is 3-1-1 with a .935 SV%.
Varlamov has generally gotten shelled by the Leafs in his career at home against them. He is 0-3-0 with a .714SV% (14 goals against on 49 shots) in three home games against Toronto with his last win coming as a member of the Washington Capitals.
The 25-year-old will be making his NHL season debut tonight against his former team. Pickard was claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, waived and traded by the team (just bfore they lost all of their goalies to injury) to Toronto. Pickard has been with the Toronto Marlies ever since, posting a .919 SV% in 15 American Hockey League games.
How to Watch/Listen
Puck drop is set for 7pm MST and the game can be seen locally on Altitude.
You can also listen to the game with our friend Marc Moser on Altitude Sports Radio 950AM.