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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Starting the new year with a visit from the Jets

The Avalanche will look to open the year the way they closed 2017

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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.


Colorado Avalanche

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.

Projected Lineup:

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


Winnipeg Jets

Preview from Jacob Stoller (@NHLStoller) of JetsNation.ca:

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).

Projected Lineup:

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


Starting Goalies

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