With a five game losing streak heavy on their shoulders, the Colorado Avalanche head to Edmonton tonight in an attempt to get back in the win column. The team has fallen down the Central Division standings with only a two-point cushion over the last place Blackhawks.
The Oilers are returning home after a three-game trip to the East. They have had a very tough stretch in which they played eight games in 13 days in seven different cities. So for all the angst about Colorado’s schedule of late, Avs fans really can’t complain when comparing the two teams.
Tonight is a battle of two of the fastest and most dynamic players in the NHL. Hopefully, going herad to head with Connor McDavid is what Nathan MacKinnon needs to get his game back to the elite level he started the season at.
The Avalanche need a win tonight, badly.
The top line has cooled off significantly over the past two weeks and maybe it’s time coach Bednar tries to shake things up a little bit. Spreading out the stars isn’t ideal, but it might be what’s necessary to get the team back on track - at least on the road.
Is a top-six of Landy/Mack/Wilson - Jost/Kerfoot/Rantanen so crazy?
Mikko Rantanen is a tremendous offensive player, but despite his assist total, he is not a play-driver. Alex Kerfoot has the best zone entry - both carrying and passing - numbers of any Avs forward not named MacKinnon. His style of play would compliment Rantanen’s in a way similar to No. 29. There could be a ton of chemistry there.
Separating Landeskog, MacKinnon, Rantanen and Kerfoot into two duos would make this lineup significantly more dangerous.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert
Sheldon Dries - Vladislav Kamenev - Marko Dano
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth - Nikita Zadorov
Edmonton is riding a losing streak of their own. Having dropped their previous three games, the Oilers are going to look to snap the skid in front of their home fans. Tonight’s game will be just their seventh home game of the season. In their six home games, the Oilers are 3-2-1.
We all know how this team operates - Connor McDavid does all the heavy lifting, Milan Lucic embarrasses himself and the rest of the team tries to hold on for dear life.
McDavid and Draisaitl lead the team with 10 goals through 16 games and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is proving he’s the perfect compliment as a first line winger putting up more than a point per game.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Connor McDavid - Ty Rattie
Tobias Rieder - Leon Draisaitl - Alex Chiasson
Milan Lucic - Ryan Strome - Drake Caggiula
Jujhar Khaira - Kyle Brodziak - Zack Kassian
Oscar Klefbom - Adam Larsson
Darnell Nurse - Kris Russell
Kevin Gravel - Matt Benning
The Oilers are going to star Cam Talbot who comes into the game with a 5-6-1 record and .899 save percentage.
For the Avalanche, we don’t have confirmation yet, but it sounds as though Semyon Varlamov is going to get a second straight start. He’s going to look to bounce back and get his 4-5-2 record back to .500.