It’s a new year. A fresh start for a Colorado Avalanche franchise that went from being an embarrassment in the first half of 2017, to a team that looks to have a very bright future in front of them. The 19-16-3 Avalanche welcome the Central Division leading Winnipeg Jets to town for their first game of 2018.
The Jets come in having won three-straight games, despite losing their best player to an injury. Even with Mark Scheifele on the shelf for the next 6-8 weeks with a shoulder injury, Winnipeg is proving that they are a legitimate threat to be the top seed in the West going into the playoffs.
This will be a great test for an Avalanche team that has spent the last few games playing against, bad or tired teams.
The last time these two teams met, the Avs came away victorious on the back of a Nathan MacKinnon overtime winner.
The Avs have won two straight and are coming into tonight’s game with a 7-3-1 record in their last eleven games. They have been playing very well lately - except for the stinker against the Coyotes.
Tonight will be a great test to see just how well the team compete against the best teams in the West.
Tyson Jost is back at his natural center position. Hopefully, the coaching staff has enough faith in him to allow him the time to get comfortable there. Having a veteran like Colin Wilson on his wing will go a long way to help that.
The team exploded for a great offensive outburst on New Years Eve, let's hope that will continue.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Sven Andrighetto - Alex Kerfoot - Nail Yakupov
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Colin Wilson - Tyson Jost - Gabriel Bourque/A.J. Greer
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Anton Lindholm
Patrik Nemeth - Mark Barberio
Even as today's contest marks another game without star center Mark Scheifele, don't underestimate the Jets.
With Dustin Byfuglien back in the lineup for the first time in 10 games, and captain Blake Wheeler seemingly adjusting to the team's new number one center role effortlessly, these Jets are still very dangerous.
The x-factor for the Jets tonight is their goaltender, as it creates the biggest gap between them and Colorado, a team that averages 3.21 goals per game, sitting one spot behind the Jets, in goals per game (3.33).
Kyle Connor - Blake Wheeler - Patrik Laine
Nikolaj Ehlers - Bryan Little - Mathieu Perreault
Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia
Shawn Matthias - Matt Hendricks - Marko Dano
Josh Morrissey - Jacob Trouba
Ben Chiarot - Dustin Byfuglien
Dmitry Kulikov - Tyler Myers
Semyon Varlamov is going to get the start tonight for the Avs, with Jonathan Bernier going tomorrow night. Varly made 31 saves and stole the win last time these two teams met. He will be looking to improve on his below-average .909 sv% tonight.
Across the ice, Connor Hellebuyck will be in the net for the Jets. He comes into the game with an incredible 21-4-5 record and a .923 sv%.
How to Watch/Listen
As always the game will be on Altitude, puck drop at 7:00 pm MST. It will also be airing in Canada on TSN3.
You can also listen to the game with our friend Marc Moser on Altitude Sports Radio 950AM