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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: MacKinnon and friends visit Edmonton

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Avalanche can make a statement with a win tonight

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight at Rogers Arena, the Colorado Avalanche and the Edmonton Oilers will meet for the first of three matchups this season. You’d think the Avs outlook on this game would be grim playing with a slew of top players out of the lineup, on the road, against the best leagues best scoring tandem in Conor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. On the contrary. When Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar are playing this well, all bets are off.

The Avalanche have fallen in most power rankings after catching the injury bug. A win in Edmonton could prove that an injured Avalanche team is still a tough out on any night.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

It’s no secret the Avalanche is experiencing some turbulence on the Injury frontier this season. The list of players out is long and daunting.

Gabriel Landeskog (C) - Lower Body Injury

Mikko Rantanen - Lower Body Injury

Philipp Grubauer - Lower Body Injury

Nikita Zadorov - Broken Jaw

Colin Wilson - Lower Body Injury

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Concussion Protocol

Pavel Francouz - Undisclosed injury

Despite this list, the Avalanche response has been a pleasant surprise, looking for a fourth straight win tonight. A more positive list to consider is the list of NHL hopefuls that will get a good look instead of the players injured.

Vladislav Kamenev

Jason Megna

Adam Werner

T.J. Tynan

Kevin Connauton

As unfortunate as the situation is for Colorado, young players getting NHL wins under their belt can go a long way toward boosting their confidence and comfort level. Injuries wear on every team in the NHL, and I suppose if it’s going to happen, the earlier, the better. If the Avalanche make the playoffs, this experience and depth will prove vital.

I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention that Nathan MacKinnon is back to playing MVP caliber hockey. He’s scored eight points in his last five games, all without his elite linemates — proof of the 2017-18 Hart Trophy heist. He and Makar have had that Kobe-esque look in their eye as of late. Buckle up for the takeover!

FORWARDS

Joonas Donskoi - Nathan MacKinnon - Matt Calvert

Valeri Nichushkin - Nazem Kadri - J.T. Compher

Matt Nieto - Tyson Jost - Andre Burakovsky

Jayson Megna - Vladislav Kamenev - T.J. Tynan

DEFENDERS

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson

Ryan Graves - Cale Makar

Ian Cole - Mark Barberio

EDMONTON OILERS

Unless you live under a rock, you know Connor McDavid captains Edmonton. McDavid is a player universally regarded as the fastest and most talented player in the NHL. He seems to have found his match in Edmonton winger, Leon Draisaitl. The two of them are a highlight machine, that has lead to Edmonton’s best start in recent history.

FORWARDS

Leon Draisaitl - Connor McDavid - Zack Kassian

James Neal - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Alex Chiasson

Jujhar Khaira - Riley Sheahan - Josh Archibald

Joakim Nygard - Sam Gagner - Patrick Russell

DEFENDERS

Darnell Nurse - Ethan Bear

Oscar Klefbom - Kris Russell

Brandon Manning - Matt Benning

GOALTENDING

The Avalanche will be without 1G Philipp Grubauer and 2G Pavel Francouz, as previously mentioned. That leaves them with Adam Werner, who is coming off a forty save, combined shutout win in his incredible NHL debut. Let’s hope he can ride momentum into a matchup against the NHL’s most prolific tandem.

Expect the Oilers to go with Mikko Koskinen, who has played well to start the 2019-20 season. He comes in with a 2.16 GAA and a .928 S%. He is among the top 5 goalies (that played at least ten games) in both statistics.