Well last night sucked.
[Editor’s Note: What do you mean? That rare 40-minute game that the NHL allowed was great! I’m not drinking at 10am, you are, Tomothy.]
It looked like a bad third period collapse, but it really wasn’t that. Mike Smith’s goaltending hid the fact that the Avalanche were badly outplayed most of the night. They really had no business having that three-goal lead they ultimately coughed up.
Tonight will be a better test for the Avs.
It’s the second game of a road back-to-back, but it’s an opportunity for the leaders to stand up and show that last night was an anomaly. The rookies, too. Let’s see if Vladislav Kamenev and Sheldon Dries can build on their first NHL goals that everyone seemed to forget.
Colorado matches up well against a Canuck team that is led by a 19-year old phenom that could have very easily been in an Avalanche jersey this season. Elias Pettersson was selected one pick after the Avs chose Cale Makar in the summer of 2017 so it’s going to be impossible to watch tonight’s game and not think “what if?”
Last night we finally saw some secondary scoring - though a lot of that had to do with some terrible goaltending by Mike Smith. Back from the AHL, Sheldon Dries picked up his first NHL goal and assists last night, while Vladislav Kamenev picked up his milestone goal as well.
Unfortunately, the top line had their worst games of the season. MacKinnon, Rantanen and Landeskog were horrible last night and a big reason why the team lost. That said, they’ve won so may games for the Avs that they’re allowed to have a stinker every now and then.
Coach Bednar had his lines in a blender last night and we should likely expect the same from him tonight. With so many injuries up front, it might take a while for the coaches to find the right chemistry on lines two through four.
There’s a good likelihood that we see A.J Greer draw into the lineup tonight to try to generate a spark for the team.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Alexander Kerfoot - Vladislav Kamenev - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert
A.J. Greer/Marko Dano - Sheldon Dries - Gabriel Bourque
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth - Nikita Zadorov
Selected one pick after Cale Makar in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Elias Pettersson is a star in the making. The 19-year old Swede came into the season as the odds on favorite to win the Calder and he’s actually been better than advertised.
With seven goals and 10 points through his first eight NHL games, Pettersson has been the Canucks best player and is helping the fans forget about the recently retired Sedin twins.
It’s always easy to look back on drafts with hindsight, but how great would the Avs offense look if they had a one-two combination of MacKinnon and Pettersson down the middle.
Aside from Pettersson, Bo Horvat is quietly becoming one of the best second line centers in the league. His defensive reliability has always been there, but now the offensive ability is coming along. He is on pace for career highs in both goals and points this season.
They have been winning games this season, but a lot of that has to do with how terrible the Pacific Division has been. That said, this is the kind of matchup the Colorado wants in a bounce-back game since the Canucks definitely have a defense that the Avs can exploit with their speed.
Nikolay Goldobin - Elias Pettersson - Brock Boeser
Tim Schaller - Bo Horvat - Markus Granlund
Antoine Roussel - Brendan Gaunce - Loui Eriksson
Tyler Motte - Adam Gaudette - Jake Virtanen
Ben Hutton - Erik Gudbranson
Derrick Pouliot - Troy Stecher
Michael Del Zotto - Alex Biega
After a rough third period for Semyon Varlamov last night, the Avs will turn to Philipp Grubauer against the Canucks. Coming into his fifth start of the season, Grubauer has a 3-1 record and an ever-improving .916 sv%.
Across the ice, we are likely to see Jacob Markstrom. Vancouver’s starter has a 5-3 record with a .911 sv% so far this season.