The Colorado Avalanche look to win their seventh straight game tonight against the struggling Detroit Red Wings. Gone are the days of the heated rivalry that once was. Still, seeing the two jerseys on the ice can cause mass nostalgia. There have been some spats in recent years, but each episode is just a spin-off of what was momentarily the greatest rivalry in hockey.
Just like in the mid-’90s, this season’s Colorado Avalanche has become must-watch TV. They are currently on an absolute tear, coming off the best month of regular season hockey in recent history. The Avalanche secured twenty-five out of a possible thirty-two points during the shortest calendar month of the year. Tonight the Avs look to win their seventh straight contest and ninth straight road game.
The most refreshing elements of Colorado’s recent strong play have been their attention to detail on the back end and excellent goaltending from Pavel Francouz. Frankie has quickly become the hottest and most vaunted goaltender in the NHL. He sits second and fourth among all NHL goalies with a .929 SV% and a GAA of 2.24. He has held his opponents to eight goals in his last six starts, never allowing more than two goals in any contest over that stretch. Add to that Saturdays dominating performance in a back-to-back situation and, Pavel Francouz is quickly putting to rest any goaltending doubters as the Avalanche make a push for first in the west.
Winning the west is something the Avalanche are more than capable of doing, and winning tonight’s matchup would only help the situation. The Red Wings are the league’s worst team with just fourteen wins on the season, and the Avs sit just three points behind the St. Louis Blues with two games in hand. Time to seize the opportunity.
Looking ahead, wouldn’t it be magnificently entertaining for the Avalanche and St. Louis Blues to play for the Presidents Trophy/West in the final game of the regular season? All I’m saying is save the date.
NOTE: Avalanche forward Andre Burakovsky was not on the Ice for today’s morning skate. It’s likely that he miss tonight's matchup and is listed day-to-day.
Jared Bednar says Andre Burakovsky had a lower-body injury and is day-to-day while Vladislav Kamenev was just a healthy scratch.— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) March 1, 2020
Nathan MacKinnon - Gabriel Landeskog - Valeri Nichushkin
Matt Nieto - J.T. Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Vladislav Namestnikov - Tyson Jost - Martin Kaut
Logan O’Connor - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Mark Barberio
Ryan Graves - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Nikita Zadorov - Ian Cole
DETROIT RED WINGS
The Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche are teams on the opposite ends of the contending spectrum. Detroit were heavy sellers at the deadline, and general manager Steve Yzerman seems to be loading up for a quick rebuild. He sent forward Andreas Athanasiou to Edmonton in exchange for two second-round draft picks (2020, 2021) and defender Mike Green in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2021 that would turn to a third-round pick in 2022 if the Oilers make the Western Conference Final. The Wings will undoubtedly finish the year dead last in the league, ensuring them the most favorable lottery odds in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft Lottery.
Tyler Bertuzzi - Dylan Larkin - Anthony Mantha
Robby Fabbri - Valtteri Filppula - Sam Gagner
Darren Helm - Frans Nielsen - Luke Glendening
Dmytro Timashov - Christoffer Ehn - Brendan Perlini
Patrik Nemeth - Alex Biega
Trevor Daley - Filip Hronek
Dennis Cholowski - Madison Bowey
The Avalanche are finally going to give Pavel Francouz some time off tonight. Michael Hutchinson will get his first start in an Avalanche jersey in the hopes of keeping the winning streak alive. Earlier this season, while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hutchinson was 90 seconds away from a shoutout has he ended the game stopping 30 of the 31 shots he faced.
Detroit will start a familiar face in Jonathan Bernier. Bernier has been reliable this season despite what his statistics say. It’s tough to be statistically proficient when you aren’t getting much help from inexperienced teammates.