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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: It's a big one

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The Avalanche visit the Ducks in another must-win.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche roll into the final month of the regular season with a California road trip before coming home to finish the regular season against the St. Louis Blues. The Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, and St. Louis Blues are all teams that are tied or ahead of the Avs, three of whom are in a playoff spot Colorado is within reacch of stealing.

With the Anaheim Ducks only one point ahead of the Avalanche, the boys have a chance at pulling themselves back into a playoff spot ahead of both the Ducks and the Blues. A loss, and the Avs could see the first Wild Card spot fall out of their grasp. This game is also the only one on the schedule for teams in and around the Western Conference playoff picture sothere’s no need to divert eyes to the out-of-town scoreboard.


Colorado Avalanche

So the Avalanche have sucked at scoring goals...unless its against the Chicago Blackhawks. Five goals against the Hawks in back-to-back tries with production from several players, most of whom not named Nathan MacKinnon.

The Avalanche did well across the board against the Blackhawks. They out-shot their opponents despite having the lead for the majority of the game. They stayed out of the penalty box, limiting the Hawks to only one power play opportunity. Lastly, they were able to even out the ice-time in the game, not one forward playing 18 minutes and Tyson Barrie only played more than the rest of the team because of his power play usage.

Tyson Barrie stepped up in the absence of Erik Johnson with a three-point night (1g, 2a), he needs to drive the offense that much more with the teams main pivot likely out for the rest of the season.

Semyon Varlamov is also on the shelf until the 2018-19 season so it’s a good thing that Jonathan Bernier returned from injury and played well enough to keep Varly’s shutout alive, even in relief. Bernier and Andrew Hammond is the duo the Avalanche have, a pair of Canadian cast-off’s who have found a home in Colorado. It would be a great story if they showed the world what’s what in the second week of April.

Via NHL.com, the Avs have had a good history in California, especially Anaheim. Hopefully that trend continues tonight.

The Avalanche is 40-31-16 all-time versus the Ducks and has gone 18-14-11 all-time in Anaheim. Colorado has gone 11-7-3 this season against the Pacific, a division they’ll face in all three games of this trip.

Projected Lineup:

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher - Alexander Kerfoot

Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Blake Comeau

Gabriel Bourque - Sven Andrighetto - Dominic Toninato

Defense

Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie

Patrik Nemeth - Erik Johnson

Samuel Girard - Mark Alt


Anaheim Ducks

The last time these two teams played each other, the Avalanche were 3-1 winners at home, Bernier getting the win in that game as well. A perfect penalty kill coupled with a power play goal by Colin Wilson were crucial in the victory. If the Avalanche can maintain their run of good play short-handed, they should have the advantage in a lot of games.

The Ducks have taken a lot of games past regulation this season, a luxury the Avalanche cannot afford to give the Ducks with only one point separating the two teams.

In their last game, Rickard Rakell beat the LA Kings in overtime, he has an impressive 32 goals and 66 points this season, leading the Ducks.

Projected Lineup:

Forwards

Who cares?

Defense

Beat the Ducks!


Starting Goalies

Thanks to the season ending injury to Varly, we ride or die with Jonathan Bernier from here on out. I hope everybody Feels the Bern.

For the Ducks, it's almost certainly going to be John Gibson who has a .926 sv% on the season.