Tonight is a big one for the Colorado Avalanche. Sitting tied for the second Wildcard position in the West, the Avs need to figure out how to get the road win that has been eluding them for the past few weeks. After two straight overtime losses, a win tonight would be huge.
Tonight's opponent is a Columbus Blue Jackets team that has won two straight games and has a very impressive 20-11-2 record at home. Columbus is in a playoff race of their own as they have only a two-point cushion on the Florida Panthers for the final wildcard spot of in the East.
A win tonight would give the Avs the season sweep against Columbus and it would help extend their lead on the Calgary flames back to three points.
The Avalanche need to find a way to score away from home. Without the last change, coach Bednar is unable to get his top line away from hard matchups, so it’s going to have to be the secondary guys that spark the offense. There’s a chance we see Sven Andrighetto back in the lineup tonight - that might help add a little secondary offense to the team.
Tyson Jost looked really good in Chicago. His game is finally rounding into form and it’s just a matter of time before it starts showing on the score sheet.
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 (Andrighetto?)
Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie
Samuel Girard - Partik Nemeth
Duncan Siemens - Anton Lindholm
Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets come into this game having scored the fewest goals and having the lowest goal differential of any team currently holding a playoff spot. They’ve won two games in a row and are very good at home.
Artemi Panarin is the team’s leading scorer and the only one to have more than 20 goals on the season. Columbus is hoping that the addition of Thomas Vanek at the trade deadline will help to add some depth scoring to a team that desperately needs it.
Though their forward group might be lacking, the team’s top defensive pair of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are as dangerous as you can get in the NHL. The Avs are going to have to pay attention to the matchups and not get caught when those two youngsters are on the ice.
Artemi Panarin - Pierre-Luc Dubois - Cam Atkinson
Thomas Vanek - Alex Wennberg - Boone Jenner
Sonny Milano - Nick Foligno - Oliver Bjorkstrand
Matt Calvert - Brandon Dubinsky - Mark Letestu
Zach Werenski - Seth Jones
Jack Johnson - Ryan Murray
Ian Cole - David Savard
The Avalanche will catch a break as it looks like Sergei Bobrovsky is still under the weather. It’s going to be Joonas Korpisalo in net for the Blue Jackets. Korpisaloi is 6-7-0 on the season with a .905 sv%.
For the Avs, it’s sounding like Semyon Varlamov is finally going to get a night off as Jonathan Bernier is set to return to the net.
*Update: Varlamov is going to get the start for the 13th straight game