This isn’t an ordinary game in February for the Colorado Avalanche. Tonight, Nathan MacKinnon and his teammates will host the Los Angeles Kings in the latest installment of the NHL’s Stadium Series.
It won’t be just another Stadium Series game. For the first time, the NHL will be playing at an altitude higher than Denver as the game will take place at historic Falcon Stadium on the campus of the U.S Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
This is the second time the Avalanche have hosted an outdoor game as they took on the Detroit Red Wings at Coors Field in Denver back in 2018.
Despite having their winning streak ended at the hands of the Washington Capitals Thursday night, the Avalanche have been on a role, recording points in 10 of their last 12 games.
On the flip side, the Kings only have two regulation wins since the start of 2020. They are a bad team that is only going to get worse as they trade off veterans before the deadline. The Avs need to make sure they don’t squander the opportunity for two points in front of the huge crowd at Falcon Stadium.
While it might be easy to be overwhelmed by the atmosphere, this game has serious implications on the Central Division standings. The Avalanche currently sit two points behind St. Louis for first in the Western Conference while the Dallas Stars trail Colorado by only a single point. Picking up a win against the bottom-feeding Kings is incredibly important tonight.
With a goal in each of his last two games, Mikko Rantanen looks to be playing some of the best hockey of his career. He has been dominating nearly every time he has stepped on the ice and it’s very obvious that he’s finally all the way back from his injury earlier in the season.
Not to be outdone by his linemate, Nathan MacKinnon has quietly put together a six game points streak as the Hart Trophy favorite now has 12 points in his last eight games. The big guns are clicking like we’d expect. Add that to some great team defense and you’ve got the recipe for Colorado’s recent winning ways.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin - J.T. Compher - Andre Burakovsky
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare - Joonas Donskoi
Tyson Jost - Vladislav Kamenev - Matt Nieto
Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov
Los Angeles Kings
At the start of a full blown re-build, the Los Angels Kings come into this game as the worst team in the Western Conference. They have already started tearing things down - trading Kyle Clifford and Jack Campbell to Toronto earlier this month - and as the deadline approaches, we are likely to see a few more Kings shipped off to contenders.
The Kings are coming off of a win against the Calgary Flames Wednesday night. The victory snapped a five game losing streak and was only their second regulation win in their last 16 games.
Anze Kopitar has been good this season - leading the team with 49 points - but the that’s about it. This is a bad team that is just waiting to be torn down before the trade deadline passes.
Alex Iafallo - Anze Kopitar - Tyler Toffoli
Adrian Kempe - Jeff Carter - Martin Frk
Trevor Moore - Blake Lizotte - Dustin Brown
Austin Wagner - Michael Amadio - Trevor Lewis
Derek Forbort - Drew Doughty
Alec Martinez - Sean Walker
Kurtis MacDermid - Matt Roy
For the Kings, we’re going to see Jonathan Quick in net. He is having another bad season as he comes into the game with an 11-22-3 record and .895 sv%.
Despite the incredible Stadium Series mask Pavel Francouz has been wearing at practice, we are going to see Philipp Grubauer in net for the Avs tonight. Colorado’s number one goalie has been playing really well lately, letting in more than three goals only once in his last nine appearances. He has a .915 sv% on the season.
It sure looks like it’s going to be a beautiful evening at Falcon Stadium.