It’s been a week since we last saw the Colorado Avalanche in game action. Tonight, they get back at it with a huge Central Division matchup in Dallas. The Avs entered the bye week as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, now they’ll look to extend their season-long winning streak to six games.
So far, these rivals have split the seasons series 2-2 with the Stars winning the only game in Dallas back on October 14.
The Avalanche are still without their starting goaltender as Semyon Varlamov is still out with a lower-body injury. Reports from coach Bednar yesterday are that Varly still hasn’t been cleared to get on the ice and that there is no real timeline for his return.
Not only do the Avalanche come into the on a five-game winning streak, but they have gained at least a point in 11 of their past 14.
The Avs are read hot and amazingly, they are doing it without the luck of health. Tyson Barrie, J.T. Compher, Sven Andrighetto and Semyon Varlamov have all been missing from the lineup with various injuries, and none of them will be returning to the team tonight, despite the lengthy layoff. Compher is the closest to returning. He will be re-evaluated over the weekend and is possible to return on Monday against the Ducks.
Tyson Jost’s move to center has had a huge effect on his comfort level on the ice. The 19-year old rookie looks confident and is playing the best hockey of his young career.
As always, the fate of the Avs is likely going to lie in the hands of the team’s top line. Nathan MacKinnon - who was named to the Central Division All-Star team earlier this week - has four points in the four games against Dallas this season. Despite the points, the Avs top line has had a tough time handling the trio of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Alexander Radulov at times this season.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
A.J. Greer - Alex Kerfoot - Nail Yakupov
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Colin Wilson - Tyson Jost - Gabriel Bourque
Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Samuel Girard - Anton Lindholm
Patrik Nemeth - Mark Barberio
Like the Avs, the Stars are returning to the ice after their bye week so rust can’t be an excuse for either team.
Dallas has been on a hot streak of their own having gone 6-2-2 in their past ten games and currently sitting in a playoff spot - four points ahead of Colorado. The key to their success is definitely their play at home (16-5-1) so tonight will be a huge test for the visiting Avs.
As expected, Tyler Seguin has led the way offensively, centering one of the most dangerous lines in the NHL. He has been particularly good in this matchup, torching the Avs for 6 points in the teams’ four meetings this season.
Like their opponent tonight, the Stars are a very top-heavy team that relies on their top line to carry the scoring load. The trio of Seguin, Benn and Radulov have combined for a disproportionate 41% of the team’s goals this season.
On the back end, John Klingberg has turned into a legitimate superstar for the Stars. He does everything for his team and has put himself on the list of 2018 Norris Trophy candidates.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alex Radulov
Antoine Roussel - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick
Mattias Janmark - Martin Hanzal - Jason Spezza
Remi Elie - Devin Shore - Brett Ritchie
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Dan Hamhuis - Greg Pateryn
Stephen Johns - Julius Honka
With Varlamov still out, Jonathan Bernier will be getting his fifth straight start for the Avs. Bernier is sporting a 9-7-1 record and .909 sv%, but has been outstanding over the last stretch of games. Since taking over as the starter in Colorado, he has won the NHL’s second star of the week with a 4-0 record and .957 sv%.
In the opposing net will be Ben Bishop who has gone 19-11-2 with a .917 sv% in his first half-season with the Dallas Stars.
How to Watch/Listen
As always, the game will be broadcast on Altitude at 7pm MST and can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio 950.
It will also be on Fox Sports South West for fans in Texas.