How about now? Can we see a win now? We’ve been so close for two games in a row, losing to Washington 4-3 in overtime, then to the New York Islander 4-3 again in overtime. The Colorado Avalanche have lost a total of six games in a row, four in a row since the Bye Week. We haven’t seen this team win since January 19th against the LA Kings. That was 23 days ago.
The Avalanche are a full three points behind the blazing hot St. Louis Blues for the second wild card position in the standings. To increase the difficulty, the Blues have a game in hand.
Scoring goals hasn’t been the problem for the Avalanche over the past few games. They’ve scored three goals in each of their past three games. That should be enough on most nights, especially for a team that generally does a good job at keeping their opponents shot numbers in the high 20s. With league average goaltending, that equates to about two, maybe three goals against per game. But that’s where the problem’s come from. Between the pipes.
Throughout this six-game slump, the Avs’ save percentage has not been over .905 once. Semyon Varlamov and Phillip Grubauer are averaging a combined .861 sv% during this streak. And for the record, it hasn’t been much better dating back to mid-December.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Alexander Kerfoot - J.T. Compher - Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert
A.J. Greer - Sheldon Dries - Sven Andrighetto
Erik Johnson - Samuel Girard
Patrik Nemeth - Tyson Barrie
Nikita Zadorov - Ryan Graves
The Bruins come into todays game with 3-0-3 record in their last six games since the bye week ended. Four of those six games have needed overtime or the shootout, including last night when they beat the LA Kings 5-4 in OT. This is the second half of a back-to-back for both teams, but based on the depth of each roster — and the fact that the Bruins are going to the same building for two games in a row — the advantage goes to Boston.
To go along with their good play in the unofficial second half of the season, the Bruins have made some changes to their lineup. David Pastrnak has been taken off the first line in exchange for Danton Heinen, who was completely out of the lineup until this hefty promotion. Pasta is now on the second line with David Krejci and some guy I’ve never heard of. The rest of the lineup has some pieces of interest (Jake DeBrusk), but not much else.
Their defense is much deeper than Colorado’s with Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, and Charlie McAvoy each on their own pairing. Their complimentary pieces of Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller, and John Moore round out the roster. It will definitely be an uphill battle for the Avs today.
Brad Marchand - Patrice Bergeron - Danton Heinen
Peter Cehlarik - David Krejci - David Pastrnak
Jake DeBrusk - Sean Kuraly - David Backes
Joakim Nordstrom - Noel Acciari - Chris Wagner
Zdeno Chara - Brandon Carlo
Torey Krug - Kevan Miller
John Moore - Charlie McAvoy
Semyon Varlamov is coming off back-to-back overtime losses of four goals against while facing about 40 shots. Basically, he’s been league average. Varlamov started in the first game against the Bruins back in November, stopping 20 of 23 for the win, but in order to not force Varlamov into a three-games-in-four-night situation, odds are Philipp Grubauer will be in net today. The 27-year-old netminder has a .890 sv% this season, a full 27 points below his career average.
On the other side, Tuukka Rask stopped 25 of 29 shots for the win last night for the Bruins (must be nice), so odds are backup Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Bruins. The 33-year-old has a .918 sv% in 26 starts this year. He’s got a 13-9-4 record to boot.