The Avalanche: (14-8-2)
The Opponent: Los Angeles Kings (14-8-2)
Puck drop: 7:00 p.m. MT
Watch: ALT2, ESPN+, FS-W
Listen: [Radio] Altitude 92.5, AM 950
After splitting the two game series with the Arizona Coyotes, the Avalanche take on the Los Angeles Kings who also split their last series with the Ducks. This will be a big game for both teams, as the Kings sit just two points behind the Avalanche in the Honda West Division. This game also will either separate the Avs from the Kings for the last playoff spot by a game, or see them tied at 30 points each in that 4th and final spot for the time being.
As the injury bug still lingers around the Avalanche, a few key players have returned to the lineup. Nathan MacKinnon is back after a brief absence which as we all know is huge for the team as he sets the tone for the way the Avs control the pace of the game. The last game against the Coyotes was a prime example of that, even without a point, he dominated all over the ice. Matt Calvert also is back, and has shown what makes him so valuable to the lineup with his grit and drive on every shift. The defensive core will continue to move forward without some key players (Makar, Byram, Timmins, Johnson) but overall they have played well enough to keep the team in games in hope that the offense will reward them with some goal support. That is something that will be paramount in the upcoming part of the season if the Avs want to establish themselves as the Cup favorites that they were coined to begin this season. None of the other injured players who have been out in the last few games will return, leaving the lineup from last game the same for tonights contest.
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Brandon Saad – Nazem Kadri – Andre Burakovsky
Joonas Donskoi – Tyson Jost - Valeri Nichushkin
Logan O’Connor - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Matt Calvert
Devon Toews – Ryan Graves
Jacob MacDonald - Samuel Girard
Daniel Renouf - Greg Pateryn
Los Angeles Kings
A two win, two loss week for the Kings see them just two points out of the last playoff spot, which is a great spot to be for a team that many considered to be a non contender this season. However, if there is one year that a team could jump into the fold and make a run for the playoffs surprisingly, it is this season. Anze Kopitar, who has continued to be a reliable leader for the Kings, paces the team in points with 31 in 25 games played. The lineup has evolved with new pieces added, but their Stanley Cup core still remains with the aforementioned Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Drew Doughty, and Jonathan Quick still with the team. Troy Grosenick won his first NHL game in over six years on Wednesday with Cal Petersen (COVID) and Jonathan Quick (UBI) both out of the lineup. We will see who draws the start tonight in the crease. On the offensive side of the lineup, Adrian Kempe has been electric lately with six goals in three games, and Andreas Athanasiou is showing his value on a team trending upwards recently.
Alex Iafallo - Anze Kopitar - Dustin Brown
Andreas Athanasiou - Gabriel Vilardi - Jeff Carter
Adrian Kempe - Blake Lizotte - Trevor Moore
Carl Grundstrom - Mike Amadio - Austin Wagner
Mikey Anderson - Drew Doughty
Kurtis Macdermid - Matt Roy
Olli Maatta - Sean Walker
Jonathan Quick (DTD)
Cal Petersen (COVID)
Phillip Grubauer will presumably start again tonight after getting the win on Wednesday night. He has been a workhorse for the Avs this season, as the backup situation is as cloudy as ever. Let’s all hope he is fully ready to continue carrying the load for this team and stays healthy doing it.
The Kings crease will be manned by Troy Grosenick tonight as Jonathan Quick is day to day with an injury, & Cal Petersen on the COVID-19 list. Grosenick won his first NHL game vs the Ducks on Wednesday, let’s see if the Avalanche can cool his roll tonight.