If we told you at the beginning of the season that tonight’s game would feature one team fighting for a playoff position and one that was looking towards the draft lottery, it would be totally believable. But how many fans would have believed that the Colorado Avalanche would be the team in a playoff race? Probably not many.
Now, with the Blackhawks plummeting towards the bottom of the Western Conference, the Avs roll into Chicago looking for a big two points.
After selling at the deadline, Chicago has very little to play for in their final 16 games of the season. They are returning home after a four-game road trip on which they went 1-3.
The Avalanche were able to bank seven of a possible eight points over their last home stand, now it’s time to get a big win on the road against a pretty crummy team.
Fresh off being named the NHL’s first star of the week, Nathan MacKinnon leads his Avs into Chicago looking for two points that could launch them into a playoff spot. With 16 points in his last 8 games, no one in the league is as hot as MacKinnon. We’ll see if he can keep it rolling against a very tough matchup tonight.
A lot of good news on the injury front. Jonathan Bernier is full recovered from his concussion and will be activated before the game tonight. Both Vladislav Kamenev and Sven Andrighetto have traveled with the team and are participating in full practice. They won’t play tonight, but we are nearing a return for both forwards. Back in Denver, both Mark Barberio and Erik Johnson were on the ice. Johnson was even taking light shots, which is a great sign as he recovers from a separated shoulder.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon- Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - J.T. Compher
Blake Comeau - Carl Soderberg- Matt Nieto
Gabriel Bourque - Dominic Toninato - Nail Yakupov
Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie
Samuel Girard - Partik Nemeth
Duncan Siemens - Anton Lindholm
Many knew that the Chicago Balckhawks were due for some regression this season. They’re best players are getting older and the front office made some questionable moves in the offseason. Now, at the bottom of the Central Division, the Blackhawks are in a precarious position of needing to rebuild, but locked in to their aging core for the foreseeable future.
Nick Schmaltz is pretty good and Alex DeBrincat is a star in the making, but beyond that, the near future doesn't look overly bright for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks have lost three of their last four games and are an abysmal 13-21-5 against the Western Conference.
Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Tomas Jurco - Artem Anisimov - Anthony Duclair
Alex DeBrincat - Nick Schmaltz - Vince Hinostroza
Patrick Sharp - David Kampf - Matthew Highmore
Duncan Keith - Connor Murphy
Erik Gustafsson - Brent Seabrook
Carl Dahlstrom - Jordan Oesterle
Even though Jonathan Bernier is healthy again, it’s Semyon Varlamov that is set to make his 11th straight start for the Avs. Varly has been playing well lately but still has a below league average .913 sv% on the season.
For the Balckhawks we are likely to see Anton Forsberg between the pipes. The 24-year old rookie is 8-14-3 on the season with a .906 sv% and has not been overly impressive while Corey Crawford has been out with an injury.