The Colorado Avalanche will look to grab their second win in a row - and third on the four game home stand - as the lowly Chicago Blackhawks make their way to town.
Coming off an ugly win Wednesday night against the Canadiens, the Avs will look to grab two points on the first leg of their pre-Christmas back to back. Chicago is the worst team in the Central and they’re coming to Denver after playing in Dallas last night. This is a game the Avalanche absolutely can’t let slip away.
Chicago has given up more goals than anyone else in the league, they’re starting a 24-year old rookie who hasn’t played in the NHL this season AND they’re on the second leg of a back to back - this one could get fun for the Avs.
This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. The Avalanche went 3-0-1 against Chicago last year.
With Nikita Zadorov suffering a lower body injury, Anton Lindholm has been called up to take his spot in the lineup. It was a surprising move as many believed Lindholm’s time in the NHL was finished after a really bad season last year.
We’re likely to see a lot of juggling of the lines through the game as Jared Bednar mentioned that he’s looking to create some competition for playing time on the second line:
“There’s going to be some competition for that second line, some ice time, because I think with our team sort of stumbling along – we’ve been good and bad – we’re going to shorten the bench for the next couple days.”
Going with a short bench seems like an odd tactic given that the team has three games in four nights, but with a four day break starting Sunday it sounds like the coaches want to push their top players as hard as they can this weekend.
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
Anton Lindholm - Patrik Nemeth
How have the Blackhawks been? Well I think this gif of Connor Murphy skating into an opponent's elbow perfect sums up their season.
A closer look at what happened to Murphy ... ugh. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/lvXomtsnoE— Cristiano Simonetta (@CMS_74_) December 21, 2018
Chicago is bad and now they’re playing without one of their strongest assets as Corey Crawford is out with another concussion. After being hit by his own teammate last week, Crawford is out indefinitely and many around the team fear for his long-term health as the goaltender has a history of very serious head injuries.
Dylan Strome has five goals in 13 games since coming over in a trade from Arizona, but that doesn’t help a team that has the worst defense in the league.
These ain’t your father’s Blackhawks:
After an impressive performance against the Habs, Philipp Grubauer is going to get his second consecutive start tonight. The 35 save effort bumped his sv% above .900 for the first time this season.
Cam Ward played last night in Dallas, so there is a strong likelihood we are going to see Collin Delia in net for Chicago tonight. It would be Delia’s first start of the season and third of his NHL career. The 24-year old has had a great season in the AHL and could very easily steal a number of starts from Ward while Crawford is on the shelf.
Here is a great look at Delia’s path to the NHL from our own Cat Silverman.