Colorado concludes its five-game homestand, and its January schedule, this afternoon against the Detroit Red Wings before heading into a long grueling-for-the-fans, but-much-needed-for-the-players 10-day break for the NHL All-Star festivities.
The Avalanche finally look like the team it was in the early parts of the season after back-to-back statement wins over the Sharks, 4-0, and the defending Stanley Cup champs St. Louis Blues, 5-3. Detroit, however, is not having a fun time this season. The Red Wings are in dead-last in the league by a mile with just 12 wins and 28 points.
In a perfect world, this is a game in which the Avs should easily dismantle a bad team, collect the two points, take the three-game streak into the break and enjoy the next two weeks to recover and collect themselves mentally before the second-half sprint to the playoffs begins again on Feb. 1 in Philadelphia. But if sports, or the Avs, have taught us anything, it is to never expect an easy win and don’t get your hopes up.
After not registering a point in the dominant 4-0 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday — what a bum — Nathan MacKinnon opened up the scoring for the Avalanche in the first four minutes of the game to give Colorado the early 1-0 lead over the Blues on Saturday afternoon. It was also his 69th point of the season — very nice — in just his 48th game. He remains on pace to shatter his single-season goal and points record of 41 and 99, respectively. If he keeps up this performance, MacKinnon is set to finish with 48 goals and 120 points. The 120 points would tie the Avalanche team record set by Joe Sakic during the team’s first season in Denver (1995-96).
In other news, Tyson Jost shed the monkey off his back and scored his first goal since Nov. 30, while future Calder Trophy-winner Cale Makar walked the line for a beautiful goal to take back the Avs lead in the game. It was Makar’s 11th goal of the season, breaking the single-season franchise record of rookie goals by a defenseman set by John-Michael Liles back in the 2003-04 campaign.
The only gripe I have with the Avs right now is this:
Good news: The Avs have won two games in a row.— Scott MacDonald (@0ffScottFree) January 18, 2020
Bad news: Dating back to after the last time the Blues were in town, the Avs are 1-for-20 (6%) on the power play.
That’s the NHL’s worst man-advantage in that span.
Gabe Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky
Matt Calvert - P-E Bellemare - J.T. Compher
Vlad Kamenev - Tyson Jost - Matt Nieto
Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
Sam Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov
Detroit Red Wings
Oh, how the mighty fall! Almost nothing has gone right for the Red Wings this season. I mean, the team is on pace to break the Avs’ atrocious 48-point season of 2016-17, which stands as the worst season in the NHL in the post-lockout era. Detroit is set to finish with 47 points unless things change fast.
As of late, the Wings have lost four straight and have been outscored 19-5 in that span. They’re 3-6-1 in their last 10, and sit dead-last in the league in goals scored, goals allowed, penalty kill — you get the idea.
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Filip Zadina
Adam Erne - Luke Glendening - Robby Fabbri
Darren Helm - Frans Nielsen - Brendan Perlini
Justin Abdelkader - Christoffer Ehn - Givani Smith
Patrik Nemeth - Mike Green
Trevor Daley - Filip Hronek
Alex Biega - Madison Bowey
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? The Avs will roll with Philipp Grubauer between the pipes this afternoon. He’s finally re-gaining his stride after a 27-save shutout on Thursday and a respectable 21-save performance against St. Louis on Saturday. He’s posting a .926 save percentage in his last three starts.
We won’t see former friend Jonathan Bernier in net for Detroit this afternoon, as he’s been dealing with a lower-body injury. Instead, it will be Jimmy Howard, who is 2-17-2 on the year — yikes — and sporting a .883 save percentage and a 4.06 goals-against average — double yikes.