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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Thankful in the Windy City

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Who’s ready for a matinee?

Edmonton Oilers v Colorado Avalanche
DENVER, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 27: Nathan MacKinnon #29 of the Colorado Avalanche celebrates a goal against the Edmonton Oilers with his bench at the Pepsi Center on November 27, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.
Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Opponents: Chicago Blackhawks (10-9-5)
Where: United Center - Chicago, IL.
Puck drop: 2:00 p.m. MT
Watch: Altitude
Listen: Altitude 92.5
Opponent SB Nation site: Second City Hockey

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

This year, I’m thankful to the Colorado Avalanche for showing me that, even through adversity, success can be found. Without Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen, and the whole host of other players who missed a few games, the Avs have been able to maintain their production and position in the standings.

The Avs are fourth in the Central Division, one point behind the Winnipeg Jets and two points behind the Dallas Stars for second with games in hand on both. The team has been relatively .500 for the past couple weeks, and all things considered, that’s pretty good.

And now Andre Burakovsky is on the shelf for a game. But that’s okay. This team has shown that they can handle adversity. Who needs wingers, anyway. Pssh.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche have been practicing with lines including their injured players, so we’re not sure who’s going to play with whom on Friday afternoon against Chicago. Matt Nieto will make his way back into the forward group, but where is still unknown.

Speaking of depth, Calle Rosen has been Calle-d up to the NHL and has played quite well in the top-four in place of Erik Johnson. In the summer, I was very high on Rosen and I am very happy to see that he’s proven my optimism correct in these early goings.

Rosen is a top-five defenseman in the AHL so it was beyond time for him to make his mark in the NHL. with Samuel Girard, Rosen was able to maintain a relatively even shot shares against secondary competition against the Edmonton Oilers.

Forwards

Joonas Donskoi - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen*
Tyson Jost - Nazem Kadri - JT Compher
Valeri Nichushkin - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Logan O’Connor
Sheldon Dries - Vladislav Kamenev - TJ Tynan
Matt Nieto - AJ Greer

Defense

Nikita Zadorov - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Calle Rosen
Ian Cole - Ryan Graves
Barberio

*Mikko isn’t expected to play until tomorrow

Chicago Blackhawks

The Hawks are near the bottom of the Western Conference and are second last in shot attempts against in the league. They give up a lot and it’s imperative that the Avalanche push hard early in this matinee game and take control of the play. If not, the Hawks will focus on defensive hockey and grind out the game, hoping their top line can steal them a win.

Getting to the goalies early will be key as the Hawks are very good in first periods. They’ve given up only 15 goals against in the first period while scoring 24 of their own. These early leads have allowed the Hawks to slow the game down and focus more on defense than offense. This is a really good coaching tactic for less-skilled teams (ie. the New York Islanders) to get wins that shot shares can’t exactly explain.

Forwards

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Alexander Nylander
Alex DeBrincat - Kirby Dach - Patrick Kane
Dominik Kubalik - David Kampf - Andrew Shaw
Zack Smith - Ryan Carpenter - Matthew Highmore
Wedin

Defense

Duncan Keith - Erik Gustafsson
Calvin de Haan - Brent Seabrook
Olli Maatta - Connor Murphy

Goaltenders

For Colorado, it looks to be a Pavel Francouz start for the Avs if practice lines on Thursday are anything to go on. Philipp Grubauer will likely back him up. On the other side, Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner are the goaltenders for Chicago. It’s likely that Crawford will get the start against the Avs.