With the six game losing streak being them, the Colorado Avalanche hit the road to face the Winnipeg Jets on the first stop of their five game Canadian road trip.
The Avs are looking to pull even in the season series after dropping a 5-2 decision to the Jets back in early November.
Sitting in a tie with Dallas for third in the Central, the Avalanche need to find a way to build on their big win against the Rangers Friday night. With the past few days off and a game in Calgary tomorrow, the Avalanche need to put a strong effort forward tonight - falling into another losing streak would b disastrous to the playoff hopes in Colorado.
The big-3 led the way Friday night as Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog combined for four of the team’s six goals against the Rangers. We also saw a tremendous three-assist performance from Tyson Barrie, who is now on a four game point streak.
Ryan Graves has looked good filling in for an injured Nikita Zadorov. He scored his first NHL goal last game and has looked more and more confident each time we see him out on the ice.
With both teams very strong at the top of the lineup, it’s the Avs’ middle-6 that are going to have to step up. Dustin Byfuglian is out of the lineup, leaving a bottom-4 that could be taken advantage of.
Both Mark Barberio and Colin Wilson are travelling with the team so we could see one of both of them later in the trip but neither will suit up tonight.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Tyson Jost - Alexander Kerfoot - J.T. Compher
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert
Sven Andrighetto - Sheldon Dries - Logan O’Connor
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Patrik Nemeth - Ryan Graves
Avalanche fans are used to seeing the best line in the league every game, but tonight they’ll get so see a line that is quite possibly the second best in the Western Conference. Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler have led the way for the Jets all season while Kyle Connor has come alive after a slow start to his sophomore season.
Despite leading he team with 24 goals, Patrik Laine has struggled through large chunks of the season. His production total is inflated by an incredible two week span, but the young winger has found himself falling to the bottom-6 on a few occasions this year. He’s going to have to prove he can be more consistent - and provide more than goals on the man advantage - if Winnipeg is going to make a push for the Cup this season.
Dustin Byfuglian is out long term with an injury, so it’s Josh Morrissy and Jacob Trouba that have been asked with picking up the slack for the team’s best defender.
Kyle Connor - Mark Scheifele - Blake Wheeler
Patrik Laine - Bryan Little - Jack Roslovic
Mathieu Perreault - Adam Lowry - Brandon Tanev
Brendan Lemieux - Andrew Copp - Mason Appleton
Josh Morrissey - Jacob Trouba
Ben Chiarot - Tyler Myers
Joe Morrow - Dmitry Kulikov
It looks like Jared Bednar wants us to play the guessing game. The Avalanche head coach told the media this week that his new years resolution is to not give out starting goalie information prior to games. We’re going to see Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer split the games tonight and tomorrow, we just don’t know yet which will play in Winnipeg and which will play in Calgary.
For the Jets we are likely to see Connor Hellebuyck. The Jets netminder comes into the game with a .910 sv% and was in net for Winnipeg’s 5-2 victory over the Avs earlier this season.