The Colorado Avalanche have one last piece of business to attend to before jumping on the couch to watch Nathan MacKinnon tear it up at the All-Star Game in Tampa Bay.
After dropping their first game in 11 tries on Tuesday in Montreal, the Avalanche look to restart their winning ways in St. Louis tonight.
A December schedule saw wins diminished by injuries for the Blues, but they’re now 5-3-1 in nine games in January. St. Louis just returned from a trip to Eastern Canada and is on one-day of rest, though, so tonight’s matchup - between two teams that are only four points apart in the standings - should be a close one.
Working in St. Louis’ favor is that Colorado has dropped their last three games in a row while facing St. Louis on the road. That record sounds worse than it really is, though, when you consider the fact that two of those games were from the season-who-must-not-be-named. The only game between these two teams at Scottrade Center this season was a close 4-3 victory by the Blues in October.
Tuesday night was not a good game for the Avalanche in any regards. They lost their winning streak, they were outshot 40-22 by a team 13 points behind them in the standings at the time, and the leagues 11th best power-play whiffed - going goalless on four tries in the game. On the bright side, Colorado’s top performers (MacKinnon, Erik Johnson, and Gabe Landeskog) each had a point in Montreal, and continue to be producing.
Lots of lineup changes coming for the Avalanche, mostly due to injury.
Injured players: All three of Tyson Barrie, Semyon Varlamov and Sven Andrighetto traveled with the team, but none are expected to play tonight.
In his pre-game press conference, Jared Bednar ran throught the rolodex of players who won’t be able to play tonight.
J.T. Compher is out sick (flu).
Colin Wilson is also out sick (flu).
Mark Barberio is out with a lower-body injury.
And they’re taking Andrighetto’s injury one day at a time, listed as day-to-day.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Gabriel Bourque - Tyson Jost - ???
Dominic Toninato - Alexander Kerfoot - Nail Yakupov
Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Samuel Girard - ???
Patrik Nemeth - Anton Lindholm
St. Louis Blues
The Blues’ top center Jaden Schwartz has been taken off the injured reserve, and will make his return tonight against the Avs.
In arguably bigger news, it’s Star Wars Night in St. Louis! I guess it’s time to grab the Clone Trooper gear out from the garage instead of the Jedi robes from the closet. (Yes, I said CLONES!)
St. Louis started out of the gate as one of the best teams in the NHL, but injuries to their top center, top defenseman, and starting goalie have pushed the Blues down to third in the Central Division. Alex Pietrangelo is back, Carter Hutton is playing like the best back-up in the league (sorry, Bernie), and now they have Schwartz back.
Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Alexander Steen
Ivan Barbashev - Paul Stastny - Vladimir Tarasenko
Vladimir Sobotka - Patrik Berglund - Tage Thompson
Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Dmitrij Jaskin
Joel Edmundson - Alex Pietrangelo
Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko
Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo
Bednar confirmed that Jonathan Bernier would get the net tonight against the Blues, and why wouldn’t he. Bernier’s been outstanding for the Avalanche since stepping into the starter’s role with Semyon Varlamov still out. Bernier’s been the second-best starter in the month of January, posting a .950 save percentage and an 8-1-0 record in that span.
Carter Hutton has played in one fewer game that Bernier in January, giving up only 13 goals in 8 games, good for a .933 sv%. With Allen sitting on the bench, it doesn’t appear as though Hutton is going to slow down and lose his spot as the Blues’ top man between the pipes.
How to watch
Thursday’s game between the Avalanche and the Blues is at 6 p.m. MT and can be watched live on Altitude 2. The radio broadcast can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.