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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Heading home

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The Avalanche return home to take on the Dallas Stars

NHL: Preseason-Dallas Stars at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After a big 5-1 victory last night in Arizona, the Colorado Avalanche return home to the friendly confines of the Pepsi Center to take on the Dallas Stars. The Stars come into town after doing the Avs a favor last night by beating the Ottawa Senators in Dallas.

The Avalanche come after home sweeping a three game road trip through the Pacific Division.

It’s the first of five meetings between the Central Division rival and one that will go a long way in setting the tone for the season series. The Avs are likely going to be fighting with Dallas for a playoff spot all season, so winning these ones at home will go a long way at the end of the season.

We should expect an incredibly competitive game between two teams that rely heavily on their top line. Matchups will be key tonight as the Avs will hope to limit the damage done by Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn while freeing up their own stars to feast on a depleted Stars blueline.

With some great puck movers on the back-end, the Stars are going to look to push the pace early so Colorado is going to have to be ready from the opening faceoff - something that hasn’t always been the case at home this season.


Colorado Avalanche

It’s always a good sign when the Avalanche can score five goals and none of them come from Nathan MacKinnon. Last night, the team was led by the returning J.T. Compher who impressed with two short handed goals.

While the team was able to coast for large parts of the game in Arizona, tonight should be a lot different against the division rival. Erik Johnson is going to play a huge role in any success the Avs have as he will be tasked with shutting down one of the best lines in hockey.

Speaking of the best lines in hockey, with a goal and an assist last night, Mikko Rantanen is up to seven points in his last three games, while MacKinnon’s two assist pulled him ahead of Connor MacDavid for second in NHL scoring.

Last night, Nikita Zadorov saw his ice time rise above his season average, but his 16:42 remained the lowest of the six defenders.

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert

Sheldon Dries - J.T. Compher - Vladislav Kamenev

Defense

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson

Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie

Nikita Zadorov - Patrik Nemeth


Dallas Stars

The Stars come into tonight’s game with an unimpressive 4-6-1 record on the road.

Dallas is currently playing without their superstar defender John Klingberg causing the team to rely on an incredibly young group on the blueline. With the absence of Klingberg, Miro Heiskanen has stepped into the number one role and is looking more like a 10-year veteran than a 19-year old rookie. He’s playing on the top pair and already living up to the hype that had most projecting him as s future superstar.

Heiskanen, along with Esa Lindell make up one of the best young defense pairs in the NHL.

The Stars are a high-event team - they put up 54 shots against Ottawa last night - so expect a lot of action at both ends of the rink.

Forwards

Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Alex Radulov

Roope Hintz - Jason Spezza - Devin Shore

Valeri Nichushkin - Radek Faksa - Tyler Pitlick

Matthias Janmark - Jason Dickinson - Blake Comeau

Defense

Esa Lindell - Miro Heiskanen

Gavin Bayreuther - Roman Polak

Joel Hanley - Taylor Fedun


Starting Goalies

After starting Philipp Grubauer last night in Arizona, the Avalanche go back to Semyon Varlamov tonight. Varly comes in with a stellar 7-5-2 record and a .925 sv% on the year.

Does Anton Khudobin go again? Do we see the debut of Landon Bow? Who knows.