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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Yes, it’s actually a game day!

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Nathan MacKinnon and the boys are back

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

Finally.

It’s been 11 long days since we last saw the Colorado Avalanche on the ice. After the All star break and a bye week, the Avs will be back in game action tonight as the travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.

Despite these two teams being separated by only one point, they come into this game in very different positions in their respective conferences. The Avalanche remain in second place in the West as they look to keep pace with the St. Louis for the top seed in the Central. On the flip side, the Flyers currently sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division on the outside of the playoff picture.

While the Avs could show some rust after the long layoff, they will definitely be a lot fresher than the Flyers team who played an overtime game just 24 hours ago.


Colorado Avalanche

The long break couldn’t have come at a worse time for the Avalanche. After an extended period of poor play, the team is now on a three game winning streak and have picked up a point in each of their last five outings.

Both Mikko Rantanen and Cale Makar were starting to look like the stars they are after both had a slow start when they returned from injury.

The long rest looks like it was enough for Joonas Donskoi to get healthy. After missing a number of games with a head injury, he is expected to make his return tonight.

With 33 games in the next 64 days, this is the time a refreshed Avalanche squad is going to need to fine tune things as the look to make a push towards one of the top playoff seeds in the West.

Projected lineup

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Val Nichushkin - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky

Matt Calvert - P-E Bellemare - J.T. Compher

Matt Nieto - Tyson Jost - Joonas Donskoi

Ryan Graves - Cale Makar

Sam Girard - Erik Johnson

Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov


Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers returned from their break last night dropping a 4-3 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins in overtime. The long night may lead to some fatigue, but this is a Flyers team that likes to play at a high speed and put on a lot of pressure with the forecheck.

Travis Konecny is having a breakout season as he leads the team with 17 goals and 43 points. While Ivan Provorov is turning into one of the best young defenders in the league.

Projected Lineup

James van Riemsdyk - Claude Giroux - Travis Konecny

Michael Raffl - Sean Couturier - Jakub Voracek

Scott Laughton - Kevin Hayes - Joel Farabee

Tyler Pitlick - Connor Bunnaman - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov - Matt Niskanen

Travis Sanheim - Philippe Myers

Robert Hagg - Justin Braun


Starting Goalies

Coach Bednar wouldn’t confirm anything but Philipp Grubauer is expected to be in net tonight. His up and down season has resulted in a .910 sv%. With Pavel Francouz playing well behind him, this is the time Grubauer is going to need to put together a string of consistantly strong appearances in order to solidify his place as the number one goalie leading into the final stretch of the season.

For the Flyers, Alex Lyon is expected to get his second start of the season. He has a .916 sv% as the starter for the Lehigh Valley Flyers in the AHL.