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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Ca-Knuckling it in Canada

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Avs start life without Erik Johnson for the “indefinite” future

Vancouver Canucks v Colorado Avalanche
Mikhail Grigorenko #25 of the Colorado Avalanche advances the puck against the Vancouver Canucks at the Pepsi Center on January 25, 2017 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche are kicking off the end of a long stretch of road games with a Western-Canadian road-trip, starting in Vancouver. The Avs will be without Erik Johnson for only the third time this season after suffering an upper-body injury in the 4-2 collapse against the Edmonton Oilers. Anton Lindhlom also suffered an upper-body injury in the game, both defensemen will be out “indefinitely.”

This is the second of three meetings between the two teams. The first game occured in Vancouver three weeks ago when the Avalanche lost 4-3 in overtime, captain Gabe Landeskog scoring twice in the loss. Semyon Varlamov stopped 36 of 39 shots in the loss, he is expected to start tonight as well.

The Canucks kicked off the day with a contract extension to one of their pending-UFA’s Erik Gudbranson. For a team that is rebuilding and trying to acquire assets, this is a bold move, Cotton, let’s see if it pays off. “Guddy’s” contract is three-years long and worth $4 million... per year. Gudbranson has four points all season, is a negative shot, goal, and penalty differential player.


Colorado Avalanche

With Johnson and Lindholm out, there is a massive hole in the top-four. The big question that will hopefully be answered by morning skate or warm-ups by the latest is whether Sam Girard will move up into a more prominent role, and subsequently whether he will sink or swim in that role.

The lineup looks so much better with Nathan MacKinnon on it, eh. This is his second game since returning from injury. After going pointless against Edmonton, let’s hope the rust is fully off and our top pivot is ready to get back to his scoring ways.

Alex Kerfoot has three goals in his last four games, his time as the top center while MacKinnon was injured definitely seemed to have helped him play better against lesser competition.

Projected Lineup:

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Bourque - Alexander Kerfoot - J.T. Compher

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Colin Wilson - Tyson Jost - Nail Yakupov

Defense

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

Samuel Girard - Patrik Nemeth

Duncan Siemens - David Warsofsky

Goalie

Semyon Varlamov

Andrew Hammond


Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks are the fifth worst team in the league. They are 23-30-6 this season and are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games. Despite all of this, they found a way to beat the third best team in the league, the Boston Bruins, 6-1 on Saturday night.

Wunder-rookie Brock Boeser is ninth in the league in goals with 27 thanks to a 17.2% shooting percentage and frankly being the only goal-scorer on a bad team.

The big stories surrounding the Canucks are what they’re going to get in return for trading their expiring defensemen in Alex Edler and Erik Gudbranson. Just kidding, they re-signed Gudbranson, have I mentioned that yet?

The Canucks are 25th in goals for and goals against. They are 23rd in penalty kill percentage but secretly carry a top-10 power play. Again, this is most likely because of Boeser’s incredible shot. He has 10 power play goals this season.

Projected Lineup:

Forwards

Sven Baertschi - Cory Schneider Bo Horvat - Brock Boeser

thing one Daniel Sedin - thing two Henrik Sedin - Thomas Vanek

Darren Archibald - Brandon Sutter - $6M x 6 years Loui Eriksson

Nikolai Goldobin - Jordan Subban Nic Dowd - 6th overall pick Jake Virtanen

Defense

Alex Edler - Erik “Extension” Gudbranson

Michael Del Zotto - Troy Stetcher

Derrick Pouliot - Alex Biega

Goalie

Anders Nilsson

Richard Bachman


Starting Goalies

With Jonathan Bernier out due to a concussion, Semyon Varlamov is the starter for the time being. Varly has a very league-average .913 save percentage this season, but his last four starts have been above that number (including a shutout against Montreal) with the fifth game being the win in Toronto where Varlamov posted a .912 save percentage.

Vancouver starter Jakub Markstrom is currently battling an injury so the team has called up Richard Bachman to back up Anders Nilsson. the 6’6” 27-year-old sports a .910 save percantage this year in 18 starts and two relief appearances.