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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Down in the desert

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Avalanche look for a clean sweep on the road trip

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche finish off their week-long road trip tonight when they visit the Arizona Coyotes. After winning the first two games, the Avs will be looking to make to make it a clean sweep of the Pacific division trip before heading home to take on the Dallas Stars tomorrow night.

After a rough patch through the beginning of the month, the Avalanche are see to be back on track having gone 4-0-1 in their past five games.

The Coyotes sit near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, but probably not for long. Arizona currently hold the third best goal differential in the Pacific Division and have give up the second fewest goals in the NHL - while playing without their starting goaltender.

Tonight will be strength against strength as the Avalanche come into the game with the best powerplay in the league while the Coyotes posses the NHL’s best penalty kill.


Colorado Avalanche

Tonight it’s going to be up to the NHL’s most dynamic duo to try to figure out one of their best defensive teams. Rantanen, MacKinnon and Landeskog are going to get a healthy dose of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, so it’s not going to be an easy matchup.

After missing the past six weeks with a head injury, J.T. Compher is set to make his return to the lineup tonight. Marko Dano was placed on waivers to make room on the roster. With three goals in his five games this season, Compher was off to a great start so hopefully it doesn’t take him too long to get back up to game speed. No word yet on who Compher will be replacing in the lineup, If I had to guess this morning I’d say Dries or Kamenev.

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson

Sheldon Dries - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert

Sven Andrighetto - J.T. Compher/Vladislav Kamenev - Gabriel Bourque

Defense

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson

Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie

Nikita Zadorov - Patrik Nemeth


Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes come into the fame having lost two straight and three of their past four. Sitting at .500 after 20 games is a big feat when you consider how the team started the season.

Twenty-year old star Clayton Keller leads the team in scoring, but it’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson who is the heart and soul of the team. He comes into the game with 12 points through 20 games.

The Coyotes hold what is possibly the most absurd stat you’ll see in the NHL right now; they are currently a +5 when short handed (5 PP goals against, 10 SH goals for). That’s ridiculous.

From Cat:

“The Coyotes have finally taken that much-needed step forwards that everyone had been waiting for, but it’s tough to pinpoint just how legitimate of a threat they are from game to game. When they relax and get their scoring going, they’ll put up four or more goals a night; when they let the pressure get to the younger players and start trying to hard, they’ll struggle to find the back of the net once.

Their biggest assets are both key areas to watch for Colorado, though. Antti Raanta is back from injured reserve after a minor tweak to start the season, and he’s been one of the league’s best when he’s healthy. Then there’s the penalty kill; at some point they have to stop scoring while down a man, but that day still hasn’t come. They’re up to 10 penalty kill goals and counting this season.”

Forwards

Clayton Keller - Derek Stepan - Christian Fischer

Michael Grabner - Alex Galchenyuk - Brendan Perlini

Richard Panik - Brad Richardson - Vinny Enrique Hinostroza

Lawson Crouse - Dylan Strome - Nick Cousins

Defense

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Jordan Oesterle

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Jakob Chychrun

Kevin Connauton - Alex Goligoski


Starting Goalies

It sounds as though the Coyotes will be getting Antti Raanta back after missing their starter for the past three weeks. When healthy, Raanta has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL over the past two seasons. He comes into the game with a 5-4 record and a .929 sv%.

The Avalanche will counter with Philipp Grubauer. He will get his second start in the past three games as we’re starting to see a true tandem scenario beginning in the Colorado net. We’ll see Varly back in net tomorrow night against the Stars.