Today’s matinee contest will be one for the books as the Avalanche will face the Vegas Golden Knights at the beautiful Lake Tahoe. Today’s game may not feature a fan base but promises to be one of NHL hockey’s most entertaining telecasts ever. The Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are sitting second and third in the Honda West Division, so above all the glitz and glam, a crucial two points are at hand. Today will mark the third straight contest between the two teams who split the first two games.
Avalanche fans should be delighted to hear that five of the seven injured players that missed the last contest will return to the lineup today. Matt Calvert is among those returning, which is positive news for a player struggling with concussions. Cale Makar, Samuel Girard, Gabriel Landeskog & Tyson Jost will make their return as well.
Colorado looks to start a winning streak after squeaking out a win late against Vegas on Tuesday night. The Avalanche walked away with a 3-2 victory thanks to a late goal from Nazem Kadri. Nasty Naz’s goal came off a rebound thanks to a point shot from the surging rookie defender Bowen Byram. Byram is already turning heads early into the NHL’s abridged season, playing well beyond anyone’s expectations and the Avalanche’s current iron man as a rookie. Not bad at all.
Andre Burakovsky - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Brandon Saad - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi
Gabriel Landeskog - J.T. Compher - Logan O’Connor
Matt Calvert - Pierre Eduoard Bellemare - Valerin Nichushkin
Bowen Byram - Devon Toews
Sam Girard - Cale Makar
Ryan Graves - Connor Timmins
Note: Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar mentioned yesterday that defender Samuel Girard cleared COVID protocol and could play in this contest. I’d bet he does, and we see Graves on the third pairing with Timmins.
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights come into this contest struggling to score. They have averaged just 1.5 goals in their last four games. Those struggles don’t include forward Max Pacioretty, who has sniped two goals in two games verse the Avalanche.
The Vegas lineup has the potential to score, but their strong suit is on the back end.
Max Pacioretty - Chandler Stephenson - Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - Reilly Smith
Alex Tuch - Cody Glass - Keegan Kolesar
Will Carrier - Nicolas Roy - Ryan Reeves
Alec Martinez - Alex Pietrangelo
Nick Holden - Shae Theodore
Nicolas Hague - Zach Whitecloud
Both goaltenders in today’s game have been stellar thus far in the NHL season. For the Avalanche, Philipp Grubauer will get the nod. Grubauer has been among the league’s best goaltenders, statistically posting a .936 save percentage while allowing just 1.64 goals a game.
Vegas will go with Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury, too has been lights out, arguably stealing game one between the Avs and Knights. He comes in with a .937 save percentage while allowing 1.56 goals a game.
UPDATE: for those asking, there does not appear to be any way they can play this at night