It’s no secret that the last few weeks have been tough on the Colorado Avalanche. With two home games left before the All-Star break, the Avs find themselves with a less than confident hold of the third playoff spot in the west. Tied with both Dallas and Vancouver with 52 points, who are both sitting in the two wild-card spots, Colorado is treading dangerous water. However, it could be much worse, as most squads have been unable to take advantage of the Avs wavering. The Avalanche have found themselves at a crossroads and now is the time to slam the door on these fringe squads, or become one.
Getting a 4 point win in an unorthodox Monday afternoon game would be a great start on doing just that. The Avalanche are 2-0 in early games this year but are 1-9 in their last ten meetings with Nashville. It appears each time these teams meet, every inch of the ice is fought for tooth and nail.
Coming off a huge 7-1 win against the LA Kings, the Avalanche seek to ride the momentum into the next two home games and the All-Star break. Winning just 3 of their last 13, it’s time Colorado turn the page on that chapter of the season.
Unfortunately, the Avalanche will be without defensemen Erik Johnson (concussion) after he took a puck to the jawline in Saturday’s bout with LA.
NIKITA ZADOROV - ANTON LINDHOLM
NOTE: The avalanche have called up forward Dominic Toninato and defender Anton Lindholm from the Colorado Eagles.
The Preds are trying to recover from losing four of their last five games which featured a struggling powerplay (13.5%) and at least four goals given up in each loss. Nashville’s saving grace throughout the year has been the timely and stellar play of goaltender Pekka Rinne. He will have to be on his game against the Avalanche top line who seemed to be buzzing at home on Saturday.
Keep an eye on Colton Sissons who has been an absolute world beater each time he faces the Avalanche. He’s scored 27 points in 28 career meetings with Colorado and scored his second career hat trick in this season’s first showdown.
PHILLIP FORSBERG - CALLE JARNKROK - VIKTOR ARVIDSSON
RYAN HARTMAN - NICK BONINO - AUSTIN WATSON
COLIN BLACKWELL - COLTON SISSONS - CRAIG SMITH
KEVIN FIALA - FREDERICK GAUDREAU - ROCCO GRIMALDI
ROMAN JOSI - P.K. SUBBAN
MATTIAS EKHOLM - RYAN ELLIS
DAN HAMHUIS - YANNICK WEBER
It’s not entirely confirmed, but it looks as though for the Avalanche Semyon Varlamov will be making his 6th consecutive start against Pekka Rinne. It should come as no surprise as Varlamov remains the best option for the Avalanche despite his recent struggles.
If we have learned anything about Varly over the years, it’s that when he’s on, he’s on. Stringing starts together is an excellent way to get a struggling goalie back on track especially if he can steal a game against a division rival. Here’s to hoping!