After splitting the first two games of this home stand, the Colorado Avalanche will look to bounce back from a bad loss to the New York Islanders Monday night. Riding a 1-4 record over their last five games, the Avs are in desperate need of two points at tonight against the Montreal Canadiens.
It’ll be important for the Avs to put a lot or pressure on Carey Price. The All Star goaltender has been great lately, so it’ll be important for the top line to capitalize on chances the way they were unable to Monday night. Thanks to the stellar play of their goaltender, the Habs are having their best month of the season having gone 6-3 in the previous nine games.
This game might come down to the special teams. The Avalanche power play has cooled off lately, but it is still the third best in the NHL. Conversely, the Canadiens come in to the Pepsi Center with a penalty kill that is ranked 25th in the NHL - 27th on the road.
Last year, the two teams split the season series with the home team winning each game. The Avs have won their last three home games against the Canadiens and are 11-2-1 at home versus Montreal since moving to Denver.
With Nathan MacKinnon taking a maintenance day yesterday, Alex Kerfoot found himself practicing between Rantanen and Landeskog. The notable part was that Kerfoot was in a regular jersey meaning he’s been cleared for contact and is likely to find his way back into game action.
The Avalanche were dominant at even strength Monday night against the Islanders, but it was their special teams that cost them the game.
The power play has only scored three of their past 18 opportunities - a big reason why the team has lost four of their past five games. That’s not good for a team that has relied on the PP to score a lot this season.
While the power play has gone cold, the penalty kill has been even worse. Of their past 13 short handed situations, they have only killed off seven. Those six power play goals against has caused the team’s PK to tumble form 13th in the league to 23rd.
During the recent slide, the one stat that has been good for the Avalanche is in the faceoff dot. Colorado has won 55.1% of their faceoffs over the past four games - take from that what you will.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher - Sven Andrighetto
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert
Colin Wilson - Alex Kerfoot - Gabriel Bourque
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth - Nikita Zadorov
From Jared Book of Habs EOTP:
The Canadiens have had an up and down couple of weeks, putting in good performances against the Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators (you’re welcome Avs fans) but had some of their worst games of the season against the Minnesota Wild and Boston Bruins. They’re still a bubble playoff team.
The players to watch for Montreal obviously includes Shea Weber and Carey Price. Weber has not missed a beat since returning from his injury that kept him out for close to the first two months of the season. Price has played better after calling himself out earlier in the year.
Max Domi has found another gear after his off-season trade to Montreal and leads the team in scoring. Montreal’s strength in attack is in its depth and they play their best when all four lines are involved in the offensive zone. They’ll likely want to bounce back after a poor performance at home on Monday night, and I’d expect a good start.
Tomas Tatar - Phillip Danault - Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin- Max Domi - Andrew Shaw
Paul Byron- Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Artturi Lehkonen
Charled Hudon - Michael Chaput - Kenny Agostino
Victor Mete - Shea Weber
Mike Reilly - Jeff Petry
David Schlemko - Noah Juulsen
The Avalanche are going to turn to Philipp Grubauer tonight after another rocky outing from Semyon Varlamov Monday night. Grubauer comes into the game with a 7-2-3 record and a .897 sv%.
In the opposing net we’re going to see a goalie that has the ability to steal the game on any given night. Carey Price has looked great recently. Prior to the loss Monday night against Boston - in which he made 35 saves - Price was riding a personal five game winning streak.