After a dismal performance on home ice Saturday night - one in which they were very lucky to get a point - the Colorado Avalanche hit the road looking to get back on track. Tonight, the Avalanche head into Madison Square Garden to take on a New York Rangers team that is still looking for their first regulation win of the season.
After a decent first period Saturday night, the Avalanche sat back on heels. Instead of playing to win, they were playing not to lose - something that almost always backfires. The team showed very little interest in generating offense when they had a one goal lead and it burned them was the Flames were able to come back and win the game in overtime.
Hopefully this was just an off night and not a coaching strategy that Jared Bednar plans to employ throughout the season.
Tonight’s matchup is one that should help the team gain back their confidence.
The Rangers are a bad team that is in the middle of a re-build. The talent level of their lineup is one that the Avs should be able to exploit, as long as they play the way we know they can. With three more road games this week against significantly better competition, these are two points Colorado can’t afford to leave on the table.
After recalling Sheldon Dries from the Eagles and adding Marko Dano from the Jets, the team has a few extra bodies for this four game road trip. That said, Dano is still working on work visa issues so he will not be in the lineup tonight.
Though they have had trouble on the road over the past 13 months, tonight’s is a game that the top line doesn’t have to worry about matchups. The Rangers blueline isn’t one that can match the speed and transition game of Nathan MacKinnon.
Whenever he joins the team, the addition of Dano is one that could end up paying dividends for an Avalanche team that desperately needed help on wing. We could see him eventually take ice time away from guys like Nieto and Bourque.
J.T. Compher will be missing from the lineup due to a head injury he suffered Saturday against Calgary. Dries will suit up in his place.
With the extra bodies coming in and Compher out of the lineup, we are likely to see a lot of mixing and matching over this road trip.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Gabriel Bourque
Matt Calvert - Vladislav Kamenev - Sheldon Dries
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth - Nikita Zadorov
New York Rangers
The Rangers are a young team that are going through some significant growing pains this season.
Twenty-year old rookie Brett Howden - who came over in the Ryan McDonough trade last February - has been one of the lone bright spots for the Rangers so far this season. He along with Pavel Buchnevich and Filip Chytil are giving Rangers fans a glimpse into a future that might not be so grim.
The Rangers defense is really bad. Kevin Shattenkirk has been a huge bust after being the big free agent signing last summer and guys like Marc Staal, Adam McQuaid and Fredrik Claesson simply don’t skate well enough to be reliable defenders at the NHL level.
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Jesper Fast
Filip Chytil - Kevin Hayes - Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey - Brett Howden - Vladislav Namestnikov
Cody McLeod - Ryan Spooner - Vinni Lettieri
Brady Skjei - Adam McQuaid
Fredrik Claesson - Kevin Shattenkirk
Marc Staal - Brendan Smith
He was one of the few Avalanche players to have a good night on Saturday, so we are going to see Semyon Varlamov back between the pipes. Making his fifth start of the season, Varly still hasn’t suffered a loss in regulation and has been sporting a very impressive .946 sv%.
It’s not confirmed, but we are likely to see Henrik Lundqvist in net for the Rangers tonight. The King comes into tonight’s contest with a 1-3-0 record and a very respectable .938 sv%. He has been one of the lone bright sports for the Rangers this season.