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 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.
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
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.
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
Niklas Kronwall - Mike Green
Danny DeKeyser - Filip Hronek
Jonathan Ericsson - Madison Bowey
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.