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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Wild that we’re meeting again, Minnesota

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Will the Avs score 7 on the Wild for the third straight game?

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche
Minnesota Wild center Luke Kunin (19) falls as Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Bourque (57) defends in the third period at the Pepsi Center.
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colordao Avalanche are rolling into Minnesota hot. Nathan MacKinnon is riding an eight-game point streak (he is averaging two points per game in that span), Tyson Barrie has a six-game point streak, and the team as a whole have gotten points in seven straight games. Three have been overtime loses, but points are points at this time of the year, no matter how you get them.

Colorado is tied with the Anaheim Ducks for the final wild card spot in the West with two gmes in hand on the Californian team. Minnesota is five points up and coming off a 4-1 loss to the 64-point Edmonton Oilers. St. Louis and Calgary are one- and two-points back, respectively. With 14 games remaining in the regular season, things are getting tight.

A win this evening would be huge, so hopefully, the Avalanche can break their 12-16-6 road funk and get a little closer to .500.


Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche are in for a tough test on the road against a team ahead of them in the standings. The Avs have played the Wild very well at home this season, scoring seven goals in both games played at Pepsi Center. But on the road back in November in Minnesota, the Wild came out on top 3-2 in a shootout.

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. Even the second period in the Coyotes game, the Avs jumped to a lead then sat back and allowed Arizona to get within a goal before putting it away in the third. A playoff team won’t return any favors if given the opportunity to control the play.

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 he was rewarded for his good play on the ice with the momentum-killing goal against the Coyotes in the third period. The 19-year-old’s position over Alex Kerfoot continues to solidify.

Projected Lineup:

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon- Mikko Rantanen

Sven Andrighetto - Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg- Blake Comeau

Gabriel Bourque - Alexander Kerfoot - Nail Yakupov

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

Samuel Girard - Duncan Siemens

Patrik Nemeth - Anton Lindholm


Minnesota Wild

Between the Colorado and Edmonton losses, the Wild have been a very good team. They beat the Red Wings, Hurricanes, and Canucks, out-scoring them by a margin of 15-5 in those three games.

Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon has been having a quietly stellar season. Seven points (2g, 5a) in the last eight games has helped propelled the 28-year-old to within striking distance of his career high in points in a season, 38, in 16 fewer games.

Eric Staal, who was a -3 in 17 minutes last time he played Colorado, has four goals in as many games sense then. With 68 points in 69 games, Staal officially failed to have a nice season after going point-less against Edmonton.

Projected Lineup:

Forwards

Jason Zucker - Eric Staal - Mikael Granlund

Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Nino Niederreiter

Marcus Foligno - Joel Eriksson Ek - Daniel Winnik

Tyler Ennis - Matt Cullen - Charlie Coyle

Defense

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba

Gustav Olofsson - Nate Prosser


Starting Goalies

Semyon Varlamov returns to the net for tonights game against the Wild. Jonathan Bernier, who has been dealing with concussions, took a slapshot to the head that “kind of rung his bell a little bit.” The 29-year-old Russian is sporting a .913 save percentage and coming off three consecutive overtime losses. His last win coming against these same Wild.

Since joining the Wild in 2014-15, Devan Dubnyk has been one of the most consistant goaltenders in the league, posting a save percantage between .918 and .923 every year. The dramatic losses to Colorado (.706) and Edmonton (.889) tanked his sv% a little bit but three consecutive wins with a sv% over .935 will brought his season-long rating back up to a respectible .917.