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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: The biggest game of the season so far

Only one point separates the Avalanche and the Kings, so tonight’s game means a lot in the playoff race

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Los Angeles Kings Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at the Pepsi Center, the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings faceoff as the two Wildcard teams in the Western Conference. The Avalanche are one point up on the Kings for the top Wildcard spot, so a regulation win tonight would provide some much needed breathing room.

The Avalanche will look to continue their dominance at home while trying to avenge a 2-1 overtime loss to the Kings back in December.

With points in 14 of their last 16 games, Colorado’s fate is in their own hands. If they keep playing as well as they have, no one is going to catch them in the Wildcard race.

While the Avs top line has been on fire, they are going to be in tough against the Kings. Coach Bednar is going to have to do whatever he can to keep Nathan MacKinnon away from Anze Kopitar.

The Kings come to Denver with points in five of their last six games and are trying to keep pace with the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division race.

Colorado Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen have been the two best players in the league this month. Over their ten games in March, both MacKinnon and Rantanen are averaging more than 2 points per game. A similar pace is going to have to continue because the rest of the forward hasn’t been providing much offense.

It was great to see Alex Kerfoot score a couple on Tuesday, let’s hope it’s the start of him breaking out of the funk he’s been in for the past six weeks.

While the forward group hasn’t been scoring, Tyson Barrie has been chipping in the necessary secondary offense. Barrie is on an 11-game point streak.

The Avs are likely to have Carl Soderberg back in the lineup after he missed the last game with an illness.

Projected Lineup

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher - Sven Andrighetto

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Colin Wilson - Alexander Kerfoot - Gabriel Bourque

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

Patrik Nemeth - Erik Johnson

Duncan Siemens - Samuel Girard

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings are coming off of a 2-1 overtime loss in Winnipeg Tuesday night and will be looking to grab two points in order to leapfrog Anaheim in the Pacific Division standings.

Like the Avalanche, the Kings are led by a superstar center. Anze Kopitar has 82 points in 72 and was able to carry a lot of the offensive load while Jeff Carter was injured for the first few months of the season. His next goal will be Kopitar’s 30th of the year - the first time hes’ done that since 2009-10 season.

Drew Doughty has been having another season that should put him in the Norris Trophy conversation. He will likely be glued to the MacKinnon line whenever possible.

Projected lineup:

Alex Iafallo - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown

Tanner Pearson - Jeff Carter - Adrian Kempe

Kyle Clifford - Nate Thompson - Tyler Toffoli

Tobias Rieder - Mike Amodio - Andy Andreoff

Derek Forbort - Drew Doughty

Dion Phaneuf - Alec Martinez

Jake Muzzin - Christian Folin

Starting Goalies

We are likely to see Semyon Varlamov make his 19th straight appearance for the Avalanche. He has been incredible lately - Varly has not allowed a third-period goal in his last 8 games. Regardless of how well he’s been playing, he’s going to need to get a little rest at some point right?

Varlamov is 22-14-6 on the season with a .919 sv%.

For the Kings, we are going to see Jonathan Quick. He is 29-25-2 on the season with a .921 sv%.