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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Hunting for Panthers

The Avs visit the Sunshine State for the first of two games in Florida

Florida Panthers v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche visit the “hockey state” of Florida for the first time in nearly two years beaten up and shorthanded. They are very out of touch at the moment, looking to get back on two feet and rebound against the Florida Panthers.

The second game of this road trip for the Avs takes them down to Florida for the first of two games against two very solid sides who have grown into their own, especially for the Panthers. The Avs don’t have any easy games in the next few games and this is only the second one of several down the line.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche on their first road trip are coming off their second defeat of the season with a lot of depth players in the side. This did not come to their advantage, as the Washington Capitals took down the Avs 6-3 on Tuesday night.

This was the first game of the season for Nathan MacKinnon after recovering from COVID and it showed, along with several of his teammates. The defense was exposed and struggled to keep anything away from Darcy Kuemper.

Of course, the Avs are nowhere near full strength when they were missing Valeri Nichushkin, Devon Toews, and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Luckily for the Avs, the captain will return for tonight’s game after completing his two-game suspension.

This will be the first time this season that we will see the big line altogether in Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen. They will lead the line and look to get back on track early on in this young season.

Here is the lineup for tonight’s game:

Florida Panthers

The Panthers are looking to build off a marvelous season cut short after being defeated in the first round by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning are the Avs’s next opponent, and were the previous opponent for Florida who beat them 4-1 Tuesday night to keep their perfect 3-0-0 record so far.

Florida is quietly one of the better teams in the league, with the likes of Sergei Bobrovsky in net, Aleksander Barkov, Anthony Duclair and Sam Bennett leading the forward lines. While in the shadow of the Lightning, the Panthers are building a name for themselves more than they have for the past decade.

The goal for the Panthers has to be to advance to the second round of the playoffs this season. It would be the first time the Panthers would make it past the first round since their Stanley Cup Final run against the Avs in 1996.

In the meantime, this Avs team is another test early on for them in the season that they’ll be looking to handle easily for their fourth straight win. They look to continue one of their best starts to the season against a Stanley Cup contender to boost their confidence even further than it already is with this hot of a squad.

Projected Lines:

Verhaeghe-Barkov-Duclair

Huberdeau-Bennett-Tippett

Vatrano-Lundell-Reinhart

Luostarinen-Thornton-Hornqvist

Weegar-Ekblad

Forsling-Gudas

Connauton-Montour

Starting Goaltenders

Jonas Johansson gets his first start of the season tonight, giving Kuemper some rest after the Capitals game and before the Lightning game on Saturday. The Panthers will probably lean to Bobrovsky after giving him the night off against the Lightning.