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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Trying to keep pace with the first place Blues

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The Avalanche need a big win on home ice tonight

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Having lost three in a row and five of their last six games, the Colorado Avalanche need to star 2020 with a big home win. The losing skid has dropped them eight points behind the Blues, as the Avs are now closer to being out of a playoff spot than they are first place in the Central Division.

Two points tonight will go a long way in reversing the team’s recent fortunes. The Avalanche have been playing well for 40 minutes only to find themselves falling apart in the third period. That’s not something good teams do very often - and this is a good team so it’s only a matter of time before we get back to seeing a complete 60-minute effort.

The Blues have already beat Colorado twice this season, so tonight will be a chance at come revenge on home ice.

COLORADO AVALANCHE

During practice yesterday, Jared Bednar decided to make his most dramatic lineup changes so far this season. In an attempt to spark something, Mikko Rantanen has been moved down to the third line while Andre Burakovesky fins himself all the way down on the fourth.

These lines likely won’t last too long into the game (if at all), but Bednar’s approach seems to be attempting to spread out the talent as much as possible so that if one line isn’t going, he can cycle through the other three equally.

FORWARDS

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Joonas Donskoi

Valeri Nichushkin - Nazem Kadri - Matt Calvert

Matt Nieto - J.T. Compher - Mikko Rantanen

Tyson Jost - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Andre Burakovsky

DEFENSE

Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson

Ryan Graves - Cale Makar

Nikita Zadorov - Ian Cole

ST LOUIS BLUES

The Blues loss in Arizona on New Years Eve snapped a season-high eight game winning streak. The defending champs are rolling and will be looking to put some more ground between themselves and the rest of the Central Division tonight.

Winning with defense, St. Louis only twice gave up more than two goals over that three week winning streak. Bednar’s line mixing might be his attempt to get around the incredible defensive depth the Blues have.

David Perron leads the team with 40 points in 41 games and is finally showing that he can be a high-end offensive forward when he’s able to stay healthy.

FORWARDS

Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Jordan Kyrou

Oskar Sundqvist - Ryan O’Reilly - David Perron

Alex Steen - Robert Thomas - Tyler Bozak

MacKenzie MacEachern - Jacob de la Rose - Ivan Barbashev

DEFENSE

Justin Faulk - Alex Pietrangelo

Jay Bouwmeester - Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn - Robert Bortuzzo

GOALTENDING

After an incredible November, Jordan Binnington came back to earth in December posting only a .904 sv%. Lucky for him, playing behind one of the best defensive teams in the league allowed him to rack up a 6-2-0 record in that time. We are expected to see him in net tonight for the Blues.

Last Saturday, Philipp Grubauer had his best outing since returning from injury as he stopped 40 of the 42 shots he faces in the team’s overtime loss in Dallas. He has been inconsistent so far this season, but now that Pavel Francouz has cooled off, this could be the opportunity for the starter to get a string of consecutive games to find his rhythm. Grubauer is expected to be between the pipes tonight.