Colorado Avalanche: 2-2-0
Anaheim Ducks: 0-2-1
Puck drop: 8:00 p.m. MT
Watch: Altitude2, Fox Sports-West
Listen: Altitude 92.5, AM 950
With less than 24 hours between the end of last night’s 4-2 defeat at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, the Colorado Avalanche head roughly 30 miles south to take on the Anaheim Ducks. The debut of 19 year old Bowen Byram may not have ended as hoped, but Byram looked good while logging over 11 minutes in the seven man Avalanche defensive rotation.
With the quick turn around, coach Jared Bednar will most likely rotate from last night, with Philipp Grubauer tabbed for the start between the pipes.
There are many questions for Bednar and his Avalanche lineup for tonight. The one certain change will be the return of Grubauer in net. The Avalanche netminder is off to a rock solid start, with a 2-1-0 record, 2.01 goals against and .923 save percentage in 3 starts.
Tonight should also mark the second appearance of the season for veteran defender Erik Johnson. The return of Johnson will send one of newly acquired Greg Pateryn or Byram to the bench. With the return of Burakovsky looking unlikely and Johnson’s recent return to form, a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defenders looks to be in the cards once again for Colorado.
While the top line and both powerplay units clicked in Los Angeles, the Avalanche may look to again switch up the forward lines to generate some offense. The Nazem Kadri - Brandon Saad partnership has yet to take off, with the two combining for three points and a minus-nine rating through 4 games. Bednar has rotated wingers through the line and has yet to find a good fit, with Valeri Nichushkin drawing the duty in last night’s defeat. Joonas Donskoi appears to be moving down the pecking order for coach Bednar, logging only 10:58 in ice time in the defeat to the Kings; lowest amongst the forward group.
No further updates on the availability of Pavel Francouz today. Burakovsky skated with the team Thursday morning, but remains day-to-day according to Bednar.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Brandon Saad - Nazem Kadri - Valeri Nichushkin
Tyson Jost - JT Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Samuel Girard - Erik Johnson
Ryan Graves - Greg Pateryn
Conor Timmins (??)
Bo Byram (??)
The Anaheim Ducks welcome Colorado to the Honda Center on the backs of a two game split with the Minnesota Wild. Game one of that series saw newly acquired Avalanche defender Pateryn cross-check Ducks forward Sonny Milano in a hit that cost Pateryn $5,000; the maximum fine allowed under the CBA.
The game will also mark the return of former Colorado Avalanche first-round draft pick Kevin Shattenkirk. Shattenkirk played 46 games for the Avalanche in 2010-11 as a 22 year old rookie. Now as a 32 year old, the defender is coming of a Stanley Cup winning season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Shattenkirk signed a three year deal with the Ducks this off-season and forms half of the Ducks first defense pairing with Hampus Lindholm.
The Ducks have bigger problems to face however, with defender Josh Manson landing on the injured reserve list with an oblique injury. Manson will be out at least 6 weeks, leaving the already thin Anaheim blue-line without one of their top four defenders. Manson joins fellow defender Brendan Guhle on IR for the Ducks.
Despite the injury impacted defense, Anaheim will still be tough to score on due to the presence of goaltender John Gibson. Gibson brings a 1-1-1 record to tonight’s contest with a goals against average of 2.03 and .937 save percentage. Gibson keeps Anaheim competitive most nights, despite the Ducks roster that lacks in depth and high-end forward talent.
Projected Lines (From Anaheim Calling)
Sonny Milano - Ryan Getzlaf - Rickard Rakell
Danton Heinen - Adam Henrique - Jakob Silfverberg
Max Comtois - Sam Steel - Troy Terry
Nicolas Deslauriers - Derek Grant - Carter Rowney
Hampus Lindholm - Kevin Shattenkirk
Cam Fowler - Andy Welinski
Jacob Larsson - Jani Hakanpaa