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.
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.
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!
Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
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.
Oscar Klefbom - Kris Russell
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.