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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Time to cool off the red-hot Coyotes

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The Avalanche need a win at home this afternoon

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

After three straight overtime losses, the Colorado Avalanche are back home looking for a win to keep pace in the Western Conference playoff race. The Avs are still only one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second Wildcard position, but after a big win last night, the Calgary Flames are right there with 78 points as well.

A win this afternoon would be huge, so hopefully, the Avalanche can continue their home dominance.

This isn’t the same Arizona Coyotes team that we saw at the end of December. For the first time all season, they have crawled their way out of last. With nothing to play for, the Coyotes have only lost twice in regulation over their past 13 games. The Avalanche can’t fall into the trap of thinking this will be an easy win.


Colorado Avalanche

This Avalanche team needs to continue their winning ways at home. As he’s done all season, coach Bednar needs to exploit the matchups he can create with the last change and free up the MacKinnon line.

This is a team that continues to go through prolonged in-game lulls. On Thursday night, the Avs went nearly 20 minutes without registering a shot on net. It’s a byproduct of the lack of depth the Avs have up front, but it’s something that simply can’t happen if you’re trying to make the playoffs.

The coaches need to figure out the defensive group. The pairing of Nemeth and Lindholm only had 10 minutes of ice time in Columbus - obviously, the coaches are having trouble trusting the bottom pair. Unfortunately, this top-4 simply isn’t good enough to compensate. Luckily both Erik Johnson and Mark Barberio are skating regularly and look set to provide a boost to the lineup very soon.

Tyson Jost has looked great recently, and it looks like he’s being rewarded for it. The rookie looks like he’ll be replacing Alex Kerfoot as the 2C this afternoon.

Projected Lineup:

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon- Mikko Rantanen

Sven Andrighetto - Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg- Blake Comeau

Gabriel Bourque - Dominic Toninato - Alexander Kerfoot

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

Samuel Girard - Duncan Siemens

Patrik Nemeth - Anton Lindholm


Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes are finally playing the way GM John Chayka envisioned this past summer. Antti Raanta has been one of the best goalies in the league over the past month - until he got hurt again - and the team is winning as a result.

It’s amazing what an impact one19-year old defenseman can make. After tearing up his knee in the summer, Jakob Chychrun is finally healthy and looks to be at 100%. He has had a huge impact on the Coyotes blueline and is already proving to be the kind of defenseman you build a blueline around.

It’s been an incredibly tough season in Arizona, but when you see Chychrun and Clayton Keller play, it’s easy to see a future where the Coyotes can be very good.

Projected Lineup:

Brendan Perlini - Derek Stepan - Clayton Keller

Max Domi - Christian Dvorak - Christian Fischer

Richard Panik - Freddie Hamilton - Josh Archibald

Jardon Martinook - Brad Richardson - Nick Cousins

Oliver-Ekman Larsson - Jason Demers

Jakob Chychrun - Niklas - Hjalmarsson

Kevin Connauton - Luke Schenn


Starting Goalies

Semyon Varlamov is finally going to get a day off as Jonathan Bernier is going to get his first start in more than a month. Let’s hope Bernier is able to get back into the form we saw in December and January. The veteran netminder is 17-11-2 on the season with a .914 sv%.

For the Coyotes were are likely to see Darcy Kuemper. The backup came over from Los Angeles at the trade deadline and has been thrust into the starting role after Raanta went down with another injury last week. Kuemper is 1-1-1 with a .900 sv% with the Coyotes.