Coming off a 6-3 loss to Columbus Tuesday night - in which the Avalanche played their best game in a long while - the team has begun to free fall down the Western Conference standings. The Avs sit sixth in the Central and are only four points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for last in the Conference.
It’s looking more and more like the Avalanche will become sellers before the February 25th trade deadline.
In Washington, the defending Stanley cup Champions are going through struggles of their own. They are currently in second in the Metropolitan Division, but they come into tonight’s game having lost eight of their last ten.
The Avalanche will look to pull even in the season series as they dropped the first meeting 3-2 in overtime back in early November.
With a record of 3-9-0 in 2019, the Colorado Avalanche are watching their playoff hopes vanish with each passing game. With only one point separating themselves and the Chicago Blackhawks, the Avs could find themselves in the Central Division basement before the end of the night.
If there is one thing for fans to take solace in, it’s that the Avalanche looked like a much improved team for two and a half periods Tuesday night. They outplayed the Blue Jackets and were it not for an unfortunate goal review in the third, the result could have been a lot different.
The team has been relativity healthy this season, so they don’t have injuries to blame for the poor play and it doesn’t look like help is coming from outside the organization anytime soon - the front office looks to be shifting towards being sellers at the deadline. If these players want Joe Sakic to rely on them to continue the build in the right direction, they’re going to need to start stringing together some wins soon.
The Avalanche recalled A.J. Greer and Anton Lindholm for the road trip. Greer will be in the lineup tonight.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Matt Nieto - Carl Soderberg - Matt Calvert
J.T. Compher - Alexander Kerfoot - Colin Wilson
A.J. Greer - Sheldon Dries - Gabriel Bourque
Ian Cole - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Tyson Barrie
Samuel Girard - Patrik Nemeth
While the Capitals have been struggling lately, Alex Oveschkin has been his usual self this season. The Great Eight leads the NHL with 37 goals through 52 games and continues to be the leader on a Washington team that finally silenced the doubters last season.
While Ovechkin, along with the usual suspects (Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Carlson) are the ones leading the way, 22-year old Jakub Vrana is having a breakout season. The Czech winger has already set a career high for goals (16) and points (31) and he is providing the Caps with more scoring depth than they’ve had in a while.
Despite this game being a homecoming for Philipp Grubauer, the Avalanche will be going with Semyon Varlamov between the pipes tonight. Varlamov was in net the last time the Avs won (January 19th) and it looks like coach Bednar is set on riding him as the starter as long as possible.
For Washington, we are going to see Pheonix Copley in net. The 27-year old backup will get his first start since signing a new 3-year extension with the Capitals earlier this week. Copley comes into the game with a .903 sv%.