This could be a rough one for the Colorado Avalanche. After hurting his left shoulder on Tuesday night, Nathan MacKinnon has gone back to Denver to be examined by the team doctors. That means that the Avalanche will have to face the Edmonton Oilers without the only player in the NHL that can keep up with Connor McDavid.
Having lost three straight games, the Avalanche will be looking to take advantage of an Oilers team that has been pretty bad for most of the season.
It’s now time for the rookies to step up. Alexander Kerfoot and Tyson Jost are going to have to play a huge role as the team’s top-2 centers. With their next three games against Western Conference playoff teams, the Avalanche are going to have to find a way to get a couple points tonight, even with their superstar out of the lineup.
The Oilers should be well rested as this is their first game in a week. Hopefully it will take them a period to get their legs back so, that the Avs can capitalize on a little rust.
There’s not a lot to say other than the Avs are going to have to find a way to win in a new way. Nathan MacKinnon has been carrying this team most nights and his absence is going to be felt in a big way.
A.J. Greer has been recalled from the AHL, but it’s going to be Jost, Kerfoot and Compher that are going to have to fill the offensive void created by the loss of MacKinnon.
Kerfoot looked pretty good centering a line with Landeskog and Rantanen for the second half of the game against Vancouver, so it’s likely that coach Bednar is going to want to keep him there.
We are likely to see Dominic Toninato shift back to his natural position and center the fourth line.
Injuries: Along with the big one, Mark Barberio and Sven Andrighetto have remained back in Denver while they try to get back to full health.
Semyon Varlamov is inching closer and closer to being game ready, but he will be in the press box for at least one more night.
Gabriel Landeskog - Alexander Kerfoot - Mikko Rantanen
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Gabriel Bourque - Tyson Jost - Nail Yakupov
Colin Wilson - Dominic Toninato - J.T. Compher
Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Anton Lindholm - Tyson Barrie
Samuel Girard - Patrik Nemeth
Probably the most disappointing team of this year’s NHL season, the Oilers were picked by many to take the next step and contend for the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, they failed to recognize just how poor a job Peter Chiarelli has done when it comes to surrounding his top guys with talent.
Leon Draisaitl is an incredible player, Jesse Puljujarvi has shown flashes of the talent that made him a top-5 pick and Connor MacDavid is Connor McDavid. Beyond that, there isn’t a whole lot for Oilers fans to be excited about.
The Oilers give up a lot of goals against - Vancouver and Arizona are the only two Western Conference teams to have given up more. A lot of this has to do with some pretty bad team defense, but also Cam Talbot has taken a huge step back from last season. His .901 sv% simply isn’t good enough.
Injuries: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out with an upper-body injury, leaving a huge hole down the middle of the ice for the Oilers.
Mike Cammalleri - Connor McDavid - Leon Draisaitl
Milan Lucic - Jujhar Khaira - Jesse Puljujarvi
Patrick Maroon - Ryan Strome - Drake Caggiula
Iiro Pakarinen - Mark Letestu - Anton Slepyshev
Darnell Nurse - Adam Larsson
Oscar Klefbom - Matt Benning
Andrej Sekera - Kris Russell
Jonathan Bernier is going to be making his 12th straight start for the Avalanche. He is 14-9-2 on the season with a .917 sv%.
We will see Al Montoya in net for the Oilers tonight as Cam Talbot has been battling an illness. Montoya is 1-0-0 having stopped 43 of the 45 shots he’s faced since coming to Edmonton in a trade from the Canadiens.
How To Watch
The game will be broadcast on Altitude, as well as Sportsnet West for fans in Canada. Puck drop is just after 7pm MST.