The Colorado Avalanche will wrap up its brief three-game homestand today, as the division-rival Dallas Stars pay their first visit to Pepsi Center this season.
The Can has not been too kind to Colorado this week. First off, a 5-2 quack fest to the Anaheim Ducks, a mysterious injury to El Capitan Gabriel Landeskog the following day and then a blown 3-1 to the Florida Panthers resulted in a 4-3 overtime loss.
Lucky for the Avalanche, they’ll have an opportunity to bounce back against the visiting Dallas Stars, which has struggled mightily out of the gate this season after many expected them to compete for the Central Division crown at the beginning of the season.
It won’t be easy, however, as the Stars have been shining as of late, going 4-1 in their last five games, while the Avalanche has been sliding a bit (2-2-1 in last five).
With Mikko Rantanen still week-to-week and Landeskog now out for the foreseeable future, the Avs are rolling with a top-line of Joonas Donskoi - Nathan MacKinnon - Nazem Kadri. Do not adjust your screen, yes, you read that correctly.
Joonas Donskoi and Nazem Kadri practicing with MacKinnon on the Avs top-line today— Scott MacDonald (@0ffScottFree) October 29, 2019
All jokes aside, the newly-formed top-line was serviceable and, by all accounts, actually pretty decent. The trio accounted for two goals in the game.
There was plenty more line shuffling outside of the top three forwards. Colorado Eagles-recall Jayson Megna slotted in for Colin Wilson, who missed the game due to some strain or tweak. Vladislav Kamenev also earned his first NHL call to action, skating in place of the injured Landeskog. Kamenev played just shy of 10 minutes and generated three shots on goal in his first action of the season. Lastly, Ryan Graves was a surprise “no-show” and took the night off while Mark Barberio skated on the third pair. Graves will likely slot back into his normal spot.
Forward lines look to be the same:
Joonas Donskoi — Nathan MacKinnon — Nazem Kadri
Andre Burakovsky — Tyson Jost — J.T. Compher
Matt Nieto — Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare — Matt Calvert
Valeri Nichushkin — Vladislav Kamenev — Jayson Megna
Samuel Girard — Erik Johnson
Ian Cole — Cale Makar
Ryan Graves — Nikita Zadorov
It’s been an awful start the 2019-20 season for the Stars, a year in which the team is expected to challenge for the Central Division title and do some damage in the playoffs. It’s been a tough start. Dallas more than tripped out of the gate, going 1-7-1 to start the year.
Like the Avs, key injuries are piling up for the Stars, including former Avalanche Blake Comeau, who took a puck to the face during the team’s opening night and bled profusely on the ice. But he’s missed the last month due to a — get this — knee injury that he suffered when the puck hit his face (?). He’s close to returning but will not be making his return to Pepsi Center this time around.
Since then, the Stars have won four of five and look to keep it streaking against a “struggling” Avalanche team. Don’t expect it to be a high-scoring affair for Dallas, which boasts the league’s worst goals-per-game average (2.21). For what it’s worth, the Avalanche own the NHL’s second-best average in that regard, scoring almost four goals per game on average.
Jamie Benn — Tyler Seguin — Alexander Radulov
Denis Gurianov — Roope Hintz — Joe Pavelski
Mattias Janmark — Jason Dickinson — Corey Perry
Andrew Cogliano — Radek Faksa — Nicholas Caamano
Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak — Miro Heiskanen
Joel Hanley — Taylor Fedun
Entering the game against the Panthers, Philipp Grubauer had only allowed one goal to an opposing team in the third period. On Wednesday, he doubled up on that number, allowing Aleksander Barkov to notch one and then letting in a heart-breaker of a goal to Jonathan Huberdeau with 90 seconds left to tie the game. Huberdeau then proceeded to score again 29 seconds into the OT frame to bury the Avs.
He did throw his name in the hat for “Save of the Year” candidate with this lubricious larceny:
Grubauer will get the nod in net again. He’s 6-1-2 this season, along with a decent .916 save percentage and a 2.75 goals-against average.
Ben Bishop will start between the pipes for Dallas. The Denver native is 3-5-1 on the season with a 2.48 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.