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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Wild or Mild?

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Colorado hosts Minnesota in a makeup game which was initially postponed due to COVID concerns.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche: 9-5-1

Minnesota Wild: 9-6-0

Puck Drop: 7:00 p.m. MT

Watch: Altitude, FS-N

Listen: Altitude 92.5, AM 950

The Colorado Avalanche look to get back into the win column as they face off against the Minnesota Wild — a game that was rescheduled from its original February 4th date in an attempt to curb an outbreak of COVID that began surfacing within the Minnesota locker room during the initial matchups between the teams while in Minneapolis.

Colorado Avalanche

After four straight matchups with Vegas, the Avs will look forward to getting some “fresh” faces into Ball arena as they host the visiting Minnesota Wild for a second time this season. The Avs are coming off a 3-0 defeat to the Vegas Golden Knights — a game that saw Marc-Andre Fleury record yet another shutout and do so in frustrating fashion as the Avs just could not buy one on Monday night.

The hot topic heading into this evening’s game has to be the power play. The Avs’ are sitting roughly middle of the pack when compared to the rest of the league with a 23% conversion rate (14 conversions on 61 total opportunities) and haven’t scored a goal on the man advantage in six straight games dating back to their January 30th meeting against this same Wild squad. With such a potent collection of talent, you have to think they would be far more successful than they have been. When considering the first unit, there seems to be an over-emphasis on teeing up the perfect shot and this cutesy mentality will eventually come to rear its ugly head. This frustrating lack of success from what should be one of the league’s most dangerous units dates back further than this season, as many Avs fans are surely aware.

Another story line to monitor is the status of forward JT Compher. While uninjured, Compher has less than impressed so far this season. He is virtually invisible on a night-to-night basis; a ghost out on the ice who you would expect more production from especially considering his status as the team’s third line center (although Tyson Jost has seemingly taken over those duties for the time being). Compher has registered only 2 points (1 goal, 1 assist) in 15 games played. While coach Jared Bednar did recently applaud Compher’s habits and, when questioned about the forward’s lack of production, chalked it up to nerves and him “gripping the stick too tightly”, you have to wonder how long until the bench boss begins considering making Compher a healthy scratch — a move Bednar has proven he won’t shy away from as we saw earlier this season with defenseman Ryan Graves. Sometimes a kick in the pants is exactly what a player needs to get going.

Projected Lines

UPDATE: No Brandon Saad tonight as he is at the hospital awaiting the birth of his child.

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Matt Calvert - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi

Andre Burakovsky - JT Compher - Valeri Nichushkin

Tyson Jost - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Logan O’Connor

Defense

Devon Toews - Cale Makar

Bowen Byram - Samuel Girard

Ryan Graves - Conor Timmins

Goaltenders

Philipp Grubauer

Adam Werner

Minnesota Wild

Minnesota is coming off of three straight wins against fellow division rivals Anaheim and San Jose. Minnesota’s youth continues to be the driving force behind its offensive attack as the group of Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson-Ek and Kirill Kaprizov lead the way with 11, 10, and 13 points, respectively.

However, the line of Kaprizov, Victor Rask, and Mats Zuccarello has been absolutely red hot as of late. The trio has combined for 14 points over their past three games and has shown no sign of slowing down.

The Minnesota lineup will look a little different than the last time these two teams faced off as defenseman Matt Dumba recently re-entered the lineup after suffering a scary leg injury during the first matchup between these squads in Minnesota — a 5-1 decision in favor of the Avs.

Projected Lines

Forwards

Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson-Ek - Kevin Fiala

Kirill Kaprizov - Victor Rask - Mats Zuccarello

Zach Parise - Ryan Hartman - Marcus Foligno

Nico Sturm - Nick Bonino - Nick Bjugstad

Defense

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon

Jonas Brodie - Matt Dumba

Carson Soucy - Ian Cole

Goaltenders

Cam Talbot

Kappa Kahkonen