Opponents: Nashville Predators (32-23-8)
Where: Bridgestone Arena - Nashville, Tennessee
Puck drop: 5:00 p.m. MT
Listen: Altitude 92.5, AM 950
The Colorado Avalanche will be playing on February 29th for the first time in 20 years and they’ll be doing it on the second half of a back-to-back against the Nashville Predators. The Preds were only in their second season when the 1999-00 Avalanche played the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-1 loss in that game. However, the Avs did end up winning their next six and heading into the playoffs top of their division before getting ousted in the Conference Finals by the Dallas Stars in seven games.
Fast forward 20 years and back one day, the Avalanche has just finished off a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on the night they celebrated Pride. Tyson Jost scored twice, with Samuel Girard eventually scoring the game-winning goal in the third to break the deadlock.
Tonight the Avalanche travel to Nashville to take on their Division rival in an attempt to win their sixth game in a row. The Predators are going to be looking for some payback after they were blown out by the Avs 9-4 back in November.
For the last month, Tyson Jost has been snake-bitten worse than any other Avalanche forward has in a long time. He’s been driving play and creating chances but just hadn’t been able to put the puck in the net. Last night he finally got the monkey off his back in a big way. Hopefully this will help his helps his confidence and we start to see the scoring touch we all expected from Jost when he broke into the league.
As for this game, the Avalanche are likely to go with the same roster that they won with last night, despite playing on a back-to-back with travel. Logan O’Connor was projected to start Friday’s game with Andre Burakovsky listed as a game-time decision so LOC is a rested option for the second game this weekend.
Bura ended up playing the game and shuffled the lines after playing mostly with the first line so some of the wingers got shifted around a bit. Vladislav Namestnikov and Matt Nieto both played up in the lineup apart from the regular fourth line roles with Vladislav Kamenev so it seems like the coaching staff doesn’t have much faith in the 23-year-old. He only played 4:19 at 5v5 and 7:51 in all situations on Friday.
On defense, things stay largely the same with Mark Barberio the lone extra. The pairings have been great recently so there’s not much reason to change things.
Pavel Francouz stopped 45 of 47 in the win on Friday night so it’s very unlikely he will start again today - particularly with the travel. It looks like newly-acquired backup Michael Hutchinson will get his first start with the team. He finished his season with Toronto with a 4-9-1 record and a .886 save percentage.
But then again, does Bednar ride the hot hand? (I doubt it).
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Andre Burakovsky
Tyson Jost - J.T. Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Valeri Nichushkin - P.E. Bellemare - Martin Kaut
Matt Nieto - Vladislav Kamenev - Vladislav Namestnikov
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
Ian Cole - Nikita Zadorov
Michael Hutchinson - Projected Starter
After a very rough start to the season - and a coaching change - Nashville has been one of the hottest teams in the league as of late. They have points in seven of their last eight games and are now tied with Winnipeg for the second Wild Card spot in the West.
The Predators lines are weird. There’s someone making over $6 million on every line and none of them look like genuine top lines. The third line, with Nick Bonino sandwiched between Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund especially jumped out at me. How do the Preds assign ice time? It makes no sense.
As many questions I have over the offense, the defense is good.
We’ll know closer to game time as to who will start in net. Juuse Saros played the last game on Thursday night, getting the win over the Calgary Flames.
Colin Blackwell - Ryan Johansen - Colton Sissons
Calle Jarnkrok - Matt Duchene - Viktor Arvidsson
Filip Forsberg - Nick Bonino - Mikael Granlund
Rocco Grimaldi - Kyle Turris - Craig Smith
Roman Josi - Ryan Ellis
Jarred Tinordi - Mattias Ekholm
Dan Hamhuis - Dante Fabbro