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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: It’s Colorado Girls Hockey Night all day today!

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Head on down to the rink for a full day of activities!

USA v Canada
DENVER - DECEMBER 12: Hilary Knight #21 of the USA celebrates her third period goal with Jenny Potter #12 against goalkeeper Kim St. Pierre #33 of Canada during their Women’s Ice Hockey match at the Magness Arena on the Denver University campus on December 12, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Canada defeated the USA 4-2.
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche and the former Atlanta Flames meet for the first time this season, the Avs were 1-2-0 against the Flames last season, with the Flames taking the first two games of the season series 3-2, and 5-1, before losing the final matchup of the season by a score of 5-2.

Tonight will be the first ever Colorado Girls Hockey Night. At 3:30 p.m. a Under-19 All-Star team from the Colorado Amateur Hockey Association will take on the University of Colorado Women’s Hockey’s team at Pepsi Center and is free and open to the public.

At 6pm, there will be a Hockey 101 clinic for everyone interested in learning about women’s hockey and hockey in general.

Information about women’s hockey will be provided by USA Hockey, CAHA Team CO and local youth hockey associations with exclusive content provided by Boulder Hockey Club’s Executive Director & 8U’s On-Ice Director Michelle Amidon, who was previously named the first-ever female Director of Women’s Hockey at USA Hockey. In that role, she served as the General Manager of the Women’s National and Olympic Teams from 2006-2010 capturing two U18 IIHF World Championship gold medals, two Women’s World Championship gold medals, and a silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

And for the first time ever, “Avs rinkside reporter, Lauren Gardner, will step into the role of in-arena Public Address Announcer for the Avs vs. Flames game, replacing Alan Roach for the evening.”

Full press release here.

Isn’t this awesome!


The Avalanche

The Avs come into this game high on morale. They are 3-1-0 to start the season, with one of the best goal differentials in the league. They just came off beating the Buffalo Sabres 6-1 on the road and have been running on all cylinders since day one.

Mikko Rantanen leads the team with seven points through four games (1g, 6a), with partner Nathan MacKinnon leading the team in goal-scoring with five (5g, 1a). Unlike last year, scoring is coming from more than just the top line; Tyson Jost, Alex Kerfoot, and Colin Wilson have combined for five goals in four games on the second line, and Carl Soderberg has three goals on his own on the third line.

Semyon Varlamov has commandingly taken the starters net early on this season over Philipp Grubauer. Varly has three wins in as many tries, and is posting a ridiculous .955 save percentage in those games. Not to say Grubauer is bad, or anything, but he gave up four goals on 30 shots in his only game of the season, a loss, so it makes sense for head coach Jared Bednar to ride the hot hand until it is no longer hot.

Rookie Sheldon Dries is gone, for now, but not forgotten. Vladislav Kamenev gets in the lineup for the second night in a row, he will be skating on the fourth line with J.T. Compher and Matt Calvert.

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Gabriel Bourque

Vladislav Kamenev - Matt Calvert - J.T. Compher

Defense

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

Ian Cole - Patrik Nemeth


The Flames

The Calgary Flames come into this game sporting a .500 record after four games. Losses to Vancouver, and St. Louis, sandwiching wins against Vancouver and Nashville.

Go read Matchsticks and Gasoline for some more insight into the Flames heading into this game. There’s nothing here that I can say that they haven’t already covered extensively.

Calgary will make a goalie switch tonight with David Rittich getting the start over veteran Mike Smith. Smith has been “so-so” on the young season and there’s some hope that a night off and Rittich in net will spark the Flames. While some of the Flames early season struggles can be pinned on the veteran netminder, the team as a whole has let him down at times as well.

Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Elias Lindholm

Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Austin Czarnik

Sam Bennett - Dillon Dube - James Neal

Michael Frolik - Derek Ryan - Anthony Peluso

Defense

Mark Giordano - T.J. Brodie

Noah Hanifin - Michael Stone

Juuso Valimaki - Rasmus Andersson


Starting Goalies

As mentioned above, Semyon Varlamov is the confirmed starter for the Avalanche tonight. He’s been a star for the Avs on the back-end, helping a somewhat young defense core and definitely young forward core in front of him stay in games and keep leads. Look for him to be good again tonight.

On the other hand, the Flames goaltending situation has not inspired confidence over the past few seasons. Mike Smith has been very “meh” to start the season, going 2-2-0 with an abysmal .881 save percentage. As a result, backup David Rittich — who had a .904 in 21 games last year — gets the start for the concluding game of the Flames’ road trip.