The two are players in one of the more unusual wild-card races the NHL has seen. With either nine or ten games remaining (depending on who you root for) there are five teams with a legitimate opportunity to steal a wild-card spot, including both the Avalanche and Wild.
Last year, Colorado successfully snagged the 8th and final wild-card position — needing all 82 games to clinch. As mentioned in our roundtable, the Avs will need around 90 points to clinch this year, and that means they need sixteen of the remaining twenty points of the season. For an easy shot at the postseason, Avs can only lose two more games, or get the loser point in four games while winning all others. A combination of those two scenarios would work as well, but they’ll need to win six to eight of their last ten. It’s a tall task, but if the Avs can get hot in these last two and a half weeks, they may make the playoffs and “make some noise” yet again.
Since the Minnesota Wild are in a very similar situation at this point in the season, this should prove to be one of the more exciting games of the year. It’s of vital importance to both squads, so expect things to be physical early and often. Colorado needs to focus on solid play on the back end and on staying out of the box, as they lead the NHL in goals allowed on the power-play with 56. Hard to believe the Avs finished with the seventh-best PK which only allowed 45 power-play goals just a year ago.
The Avalanche are coming off a well-handled shutout over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday, a game in which the Avalanche only allowed 22 shots for goaltender Philipp Grubauer. Tyson Barrie also tallied his first game-winning goal of the season, and seems to have found the late-season form that Colorado fans know and love.
If the Avalanche want to have any shot at the post-season, they’ll need to dominate their Tuesday evening foe.
It’s a good time to be an Avalanche fan, with lots to look forward to even if they don’t earn a berth in the coveted Stanley Cup playoffs. The NHL announced that the Draft lottery will be held after the regular season, and that means Avs faithful will know sooner rather than later just how fruitful the Matt Duchene trade will prove to be. If they miss the playoffs and Ottawa continues to tank, they could end up with two top 5 picks — seeing as nearly 20% of those ping pong balls will have the Avalanche logo on them.
The team re-called A.J. Greer last night so we should see him on the 4th line unless the coaches want to go with seven defenders again.
DERICK BRASSARD - NATHAN MACKINNON - J.T. COMPHER
COLIN WILSON - CARL SODERBERG - MIKKO RANTANEN
ALEXANDER KERFOOT - TYSON JOST - MATT CALVERT
SVEN ANDRIGHETTO - GABRIEL BOURQUE - AJ GREER
SAMUEL GIRARD - ERIK JOHNSON
IAN COLE - TYSON BARRIE
NIKITA ZADOROV - PATRIK NEMETH
Minnesota lost in OT to a surprising Islanders team on Sunday, playing a hard-fought game against a good team in which the Wild got what was likely a vital loser point.
The Avalanche will have to keep a close eye on familiar but unfriendly opponent Zach Parise, who is leading his team in goals and points in 2019-2020. Parise is known for being a dream killer in Colorado and just scored this beaut on Sunday.
Wild coach Bruce Boudreau has uncharacteristically GUARANTEED that they will be playing in the second week of April despite the fact that they were clear sellers at the deadline. “Hockeytown USA” will be pretty let down if the Wild miss the playoffs for a second year straight.
ZACH PARISE - ERIC STAAL - JASON ZUCKER
JORDAN GREENWAY - LUKE KUNIN - KEVIN FIALA
RYAN DONATO - VICTOR RASK - PONTUS ABERG
MARCUS FOLIGNO - ERIC FEHR - J.T. BROWN
RYAN SUTER - JARED SPURGEON
JONAS BRODIN - GREG PATERYN
NICK SEELER - BRAD HUNT
With the season on the line and on rivalry night, you can expect Philipp Grubauer and Devan Dubnyk to be between the pipes for their respective squads.
Grubby has had some solid performances but I’d say his last vs NJ was his best. He was making elite level plays and although he only faced 22 shots, he thwarted some dangerous opportunities, to include this showstopper.
Dubnyk has seemed to struggle against the Avs in recent history, giving up a whopping 16 goals in their last five meetings. Devan comes in with a .911 save percentage giving up 2.6 GAA.