The Colorado Avalanche will finish their trip through Western Canada tonight against the Winnipeg Jets. Having split the first two games of the trip, the Avs will be looking to prove that they can hang with the best teams in the conference.
The Avs are going to be making a switch in net. Jonathan Bernier is finally going to get some rest as it looks like Semyon Varlamov is set to make his first start in over a month.
Nathan MacKinnon will be out again for Colorado. Despite the absence of their star, the Avs were able to grind out an overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night. We saw offense from unlikely sources and the team was able to bounce back from a blown third-period lead - two very good signs.
Tonight’s opponent continues to roll despite the loss of their own star center. Mark Sheifele has been out of the lineup since December, but the Jets still sit on top of the Central Division standings.
The Avalanche are undefeated in their previous two meetings with the Jets this season - having won both games in overtime. They will look to make it three in a row and jump back into a playoff spot.
We knew that others were going to have to step up with Nathan MacKinnon out of the lineup, and that’s exactly what happened on Thursday night. Nikita Zadorov and Samuel Girard provided goals from the backend while Blake Comeau picked up his fourth shorthanded goal of the season.
The team took yesterday off in Winnipeg, so we aren’t going to learn about any lineup changes until later today. I suspect coach Bednar will go with the same lines that got the win on Thursday - at least to start.
Injuries: MacKinnon, Sven Andrighetto, and Mark Barberio are all still back in Denver nursing their injuries.
Gabriel Landeskog - Alexander Kerfoot - Mikko Rantanen
Colin Wilson - Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau
Gabriel Bourque - Dominic Toninato - Nail Yakupov
Nikita Zadorov - Erik Johnson
Anton Lindholm - Tyson Barrie
Samuel Girard - Patrik Nemeth
Even with a star like Mark Sheifele out of the lineup, the Jets are one of the best offensive teams in the NHL. Only Vegas and Tampa Bay have scored more goals than Winnipeg this season.
This is a very deep team that can score on just about any shift. Blake Wheeler and Patrik Laine continue to be elite while Kyle Connor is putting up a rookie season that should put him as a candidate for the Calder Trophy.
The scary part is how young this team is, along with Laine and Connor, the 19 goals from Nikolaj Ehlers means that Winnipeg’s top-3 goal scorers are 21 years of age and younger. They’re going to be good for a long time.
Injuries: All-Star center Mark Sheifele is still a long way from returning to the lineup and now the Jets have to go without their stud defenseman Jacob Trouba who just went down with an ankle injury that could keep him sidelined for up to two months.
Patrik Laine - Blake Wheeler - Jack Roslovic
Mathieu Perreault - Bryan Little - Nikolaj Ehlers
Andrew Copp - Adam Lowry - Joel Armia
Kyle Connor - Matt Hendricks - Brandon Tanev
Josh Morrissey - Tyler Myers
Tobias Enstrom - Dustin Byfuglien
Ben Chiarot - Tucker Poolman
It looks as though Semyon Varlamov is going to get his first start since January 2nd. He has been healthy and ready to go all week and now he’s finally going to get back in net in an attempt to take back the starting job from Jonathan Bernier.
Varlamov is 13-9-2 on the season with a .912 sv%.
Nothing is confirmed yet, but we are likely to see All-Star Connor Hellebuyck for the Jets. He is having a breakout season posting a 26-6-8 record with a .924 sv%.
How to Watch
Tonight’s game starts just after 6 pm MST and will be broadcast on Altitude as well as TSN3 in Canada.