Colorado Avalanche - 15-8-2
Los Angeles Kings - 11-9-6
Puck Drop - 3:30pm MT
Watch - NBCSN
Listen - Altitude 92.5, AM 950 (RADIO)
The Colorado Avalanche look to get on a roll and make up ground in the standings. A win (combined with a Minnesota loss) would see the Avalanche vault into second place behind Vegas in an unexpectedly tight Honda West division. After a tight 2-0 victory that saw Colorado pepper Kings goaltender Cal Petersen with 45 shots and only get one past (the second goal came with an empty net), the Avalanche will be looking for a few more pucks to find home in tonight’s contest.
The Avalanche are still missing a significant portion of their defensive corps, with Cale Makar and Bowen Byram making progress with their injuries, but unexpected to re-join the Colorado lineup tonight. Coach Jared Bednar has stated that Byram should be the first player expected back and that Makar has been doing some skating with the team in preparation for his return, hopefully early next week.
Even without the missing defenders, the Avalanche have been stifling their opponents. Colorado has now gone 15 straight games without allowing an opponent 30 or more shots on goal and three straight allowing less than 20. The patchwork blueline has been held together by stellar play from Samuel Girard and Devon Toews as well as surprisingly strong play from Jacob MacDonald and Dan Renouf. The Avalanche are currently sitting fifth in the league giving up only 2.36 goals per game with the fourth best power play in the league, 86.5% (best in the division).
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
Dan Renouf - Greg Pateryn
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings caught a huge break prior to the previous matchup, with Petersen clearing COVID-19 protocols prior to game time and allowing the Kings to start one of their regular goaltending tandem (with Jonathan Quick currently out injured). This proved huge in the previous matchup, with Petersen having an outstanding game to keep Los Angeles close, despite being badly outplayed by Colorado.
Tonight the Kings will be looking to get a few bounces to combine with the stellar play from Petersen to get back into the win column. This may be a tough ask however, as Los Angeles struggle to score goals and are competing against a top five defense that is on a roll. The Kings will be looking to their veteran leaders, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, to take on the scoring load, as both players have “turned back the clock” and are having highly productive seasons for Los Angeles.
Projected Lineup (from Jewels from the Crown)
Alex Iafallo — Anze Kopitar — Dustin Brown
Adrian Kempe — Blake Lizotte — Trevor Moore
Andreas Athanasiou — Gabriel Vilardi — Jeff Carter
Carl Grundstrom — Michael Amadio — Austin Wagner
Mikey Anderson — Drew Doughty
Kurtis MacDermid — Matt Roy
Tobias Bjornfot — Sean Walker
Expected Scratches: Matt Luff
Injured Reserve: Jaret Anderson-Dolan (upper body), Martin Frk (lower body), Jonathan Quick (upper body)
COVID-19 Protocol: Olli Maatta
The Avalanche are likely to stick with Grubauer in net. The Colorado goaltender is coming off his fourth shutout of the season. Despite his heavy workload with Pavel Francouz on IR, Grubauer is having a fine season. Last game’s shutout dropped Grubauer’s GAA to a miniscule 1.95 to go with his .920 save percentage. The Kings, still without Quick will turn to Petersen, who is having a solid season with a .920 save percentage to match Grubauer and a 2.61 GAA.