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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Desperate Avalanche look for big win against hated rival

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Storied rivalry has a new feel in 2019

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Rivalry?

Tonight the Colorado Avalanche will play an old time but not so current rival in the Detroit Red Wings one day after the passing of NHL legend, and former Wing, Ted Lindsay. Lindsay pioneered the NHL players association and is a celebrated member of the Red Wings dynasty that will truly be missed around the league.

It has been 20 years since what I refer to as the glory days. Those days largely featured matchups with the powerhouse out of hockey town, and those matchups often encouraged a brand of hockey that I liken to modern-day gladiators on ice. Who could forget the gong-show that was the March of 1997 brawl, which was dubbed FIGHT NIGHT AT THE JOE and BLOODY WEDNESDAY (among other things)? From 1996 to 2002 the two franchises raised 5 Stanley Cup banners into their storied rafters.

Since then each franchise has only had a small serving of what once was. Safe to say the salary cap and conference realignment dealt a heavy blow to this once vicious rivalry. A decision made by the NHL that I’ll never quite understand.

You can still bet on Avalanche fans to chime off a few “RED WINGS SUCK” chants, and we will even get a little shifty from seeing all that red on the ice. But as the kids say, it’s 2019. That means it’s time for us to move on from these “glory days.” We can no longer be the belligerent former hometown hero at the corner pub talking about what was and what could have been. It’s time to dawn a new dynasty. The Avalanche can’t do that if we regress to a non-playoff team.


Colorado Avalanche

Colorado is returning from a frustrating trip to California that proved to be a wasteful endeavor. Coming up short in SJS (3-4) and yet again in Anaheim (2-1) puts the boys in an even more desperate situation as we fly through the final stretch of the 2018-19 regular season. The Avs are three points out of the final wild card spot in the west with just sixteen games remaining.

Avs have lost three of four games after showing new life in the form of a four-game winning streak. Some might look at roster adjustments made at the trade deadline and wonder if that’s what killed the mojo.

Newcomer Derick Brassard seems to fit in nicely with the Avalanche game style having scored goals in two of his four appearances with the team, including the lone power-play goal in Sunday’s showdown with the Ducks.

FORWARDS

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Derick Brassard - Tyson Jost - Matt Calvert

Colin Wilson - Carl Soderberg - J.T. Compher

Sven Andrighetto - Alexander Kerfoot - Sheldon Dries

DEFENSE

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson

Patrik Nemeth - Tyson Barrie

Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov


Detroit Red Wings

The Wings are amid a seven-game slump and are pointless in their last four. Detroit finds themselves in a race of a different sort as the year winds down. One for the Jack Hughes sweepstakes. Just four points ahead of the Senators for dead last in the league, the Wings already have a strong shot at landing in the top 3 of a stacked 2020 entry draft. So will the Avalanche if the Senators continue to implode.

The Red Wings are led by Dylan Larkin who has scored 27 goals and 65 points on the year. New Wing Filip Zadina is also going to bring some hope into the hearts of Detroit faithful and he and Larkin hope to be the face of the future for Detroit fans who know the rebuild is underway.

FORWARDS

Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Anthony Mantha

Luke Glendening - Andreas Athanasiou - Filip Zadina

Darren Helm - Frans Nielsen - Thomas Vanek

Justin Abdelkader - Jacob de la Rose - Michael Rasmussen

DEFENSE

Niklas Kronwall - Mike Green

Danny DeKeyser - Filip Hronek

Jonathan Ericsson - Madison Bowey


Starting Goalies

The Avs will likely be going with Semyon Varlamov in tonight’s key matchup. We caught a glimpse of how good Varly can be during Colorado’s four-game winning streak where he earned NHL first star of the week honors and sported a .964 save percentage and 107 saves over the stretch. Hopefully, he can consistently return to that form.

In net for the Wings will be goaltender Jimmy Howard who is 17-18-0 on the season with a .908 save percentage and 2.98 GAA. Colorado NEEDS to capitalize and defeat their struggling opponent.