The Colorado Avalanche should at least be well rested coming in to Friday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. They haven’t played since Monday night’s 3-0 shutout loss against the Carolina Hurricanes (what a bunch of jerks), and in that down time they have watched the Minnesota Wild play themselves out of a playoff spot while the Arizona Coyotes have played themselves into one. The Dallas Stars have started to pull away from the Wild Card race, and will be battling the St. Louis Blues for the third spot in the Central more so than a Wild Card spot now.
The Ducks come to town in the exact opposite situation as the Avs; facing the second game of a road back to back after a late night loss to the Coyotes. The Ducks playoff hopes are completely gone and they will be heading in to a snowy Pepsi Center likely feeling very worn down.
With Anaheim coming to town in the midst of a mighty blizzard as well as several natural avalanches in the Rocky Mountains, the Avs will have to channel their namesake and bury their exhausted competition with a statement win if they want to change momentum in their favor and make a serious push towards the playoffs.
The Avs come into this game having participated in three straight shutouts; two as victim and one as victor. The fact that the Avs have fallen victim to strong goaltending recently does not bode well for the Avalanche in this game, as John Gibson will likely be starting in net for the Ducks. He has been the biggest positive in a season of negatives and he already solved the Avs once this month, only allowing one goal when Derick Brassard snuck one by on a powerplay.
The Avs have looked miles better overall since ending their midseason slump, but they’ll have to play out of their minds to make a legitimate playoff push, especially with Gabriel Landeskog out for the rest of the season. Players like J.T. Compher and Tyson Jost will have to step up big time down the stretch. Winning games against mediocre teams without your star players is something that teams expecting to make the playoffs simply have to accomplish.
With Landeskog out, there is no “big line” anymore for the Avs. Obviously, Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon are still head and shoulders above anyone else on the team, leaving them a bit top heavy, but the lines for tonight look a bit more evenly distributed in Landeskog’s absence.
Derick Brassard - Nathan MacKinnon - J.T. Compher
Colin Wilson - Carl Soderberg - Mikko Rantanen
Alexander Kerfoot - Tyson Jost - Matt Calvert
Sven Andrighetto - Andrew Agozzino - Gabriel Borque
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Tyson Barrie
Nikita Zadorov - Patrik Nemeth
While fans of the Avalanche were trying to decipher their team’s sudden mid-season slump, the hockey world at large was focusing on the even worse collapse of the Ducks, which unlike the Avs, never really came to an end. An aging but still talented team with a Vezina caliber goaltender squandering an entire season after starting so positive seemed so unlikely but yet here the Ducks are. Closer to the first overall pick than they are to any sort of playoff contention. As stated earlier, John Gibson has been the one positive in a season of negatives for this team, and a quick look at their roster will reveal that.
Nick Ritchie - Ryan Getzlaf - Daniel Sprong
Rickard Rakell - Devin Shore - Jakob Silfverberg
Troy Terry - Adam Henrique - Corey Perry
Max Jones - Derek Grant - Carter Rowney
Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson
Jacob Larsson - Cam Fowler
Jaycob Megna - Korbinian Holzer
Although neither starting goaltender is confirmed, it looks most likely that the starting goaltender will be Semyon Varlamov for the Avalanche, who is back after sitting out the last two games in favor of Philipp Grubauer.
Starting in net for Anaheim will in all likelihood be John Gibson as his backup Ryan Miller played against Arizona and was absolutely shellacked last night. There has been enough ranting and raving about an opponents goaltender in this article so Gibson’s stat line will have to speak for itself. Even in a tremendously down year for the Ducks he has still racked up 20 of their 28 wins as well as a .915 save percentage and a 2.80 GAA.
The game will air at 7 PM MT on Altitude