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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Feasting on bottom dwellers

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The Avalanche look for their fourth straight win as the Anaheim Ducks come to town

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche will continue their home-stand Tuesday night as they host the last place Anaheim Ducks at Ball Arena. This will already be the fifth meeting between the two teams with the Avalanche going 2-1-1 in the previous four.

Finding their identity as an elite defensive team, the Avalanche continue to work their way up the standings after a slow start to the season. They now sit third in the West and will be looking to put a little breathing room between themselves and the bottom half of the division.

These are the types of games that good teams win - even when dealing with injuries. The Avalanche need to take advantage of Anaheim’s tank tonight.

Colorado Avalanche

A win tonight would be the forth in a row for the Avalanche and it would pull them within three points of the division leading Vegas Golden Knights.

The Avs are playing well despite being without five of their eight best defenders. What’s most impressive, is that the team currently leads the NHL in 5v5 defense whole playing with a makeshift group of defenders that includes three career AHLers.

Head Coach Jared Bednar has the whole team buying into his system and it’s paying huge dividends in their defensive results.

Cale Makar has been skating for the last little while but he has not yet joined his teammates for a practice. He is not expected to play tonight but all indications point to him progressing towards a return to the lineup.

Projected Lineup

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen

Brandon Saad - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky

Valeri Nichushkin - Tyson Jost - Joonas Donskoi

Logan O’Connor - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Matt Calvert

Devon Toews - Ryan Graves

Jacob MacDonald - Samuel Girard

Daniel Renouf - Greg Pateryn

UPDATE: Bo Byram and J.T. Compher are “close” to returning, maybe as soon as next game. Makar is skating and “making progress”.

Anaheim Ducks

The Ducks come into this game having lost three in row and 12 of their last 14 games. This team is in obvious tank mode - something that is never more obvious than when the dress veterans like David Backes and Nicolas Deslauriers over high-end youngsters like Sam Steel and Trevor Zegras.

One of the two kids will likely be in the lineup tonight as the team placed Backes on waivers over the weekend in order to send him to the taxi squad.

Former DU Pioneer Troy Terry had a big game the last time the Ducks were in town, scoring twice in Anaheim’s overtime loss. He has been playing on the team’s top line as many believe Anaheim is showcasing him for a trade.

Projected Lineup

Max Comtois - Ryan Getzlaf - Troy Terry

Rickard Rakell - Adam Henrique - Jakob Silfverberg

Danton Heinen - Isac Lundestrom - Max Jones

Nicolas Deslauriers - David Backes (Steel?) - Vinni Lettieri

Josh Mahura - Kevin Shattenkirk

Cam Folwer - Jani Hakanpaa

Ben Hutton - Jacob Larsson

Starting Goalies

Philipp Grubauer will get the start for the Avalanche again tonight. He comes into this game with a 15-7-0 record and a .923 save percentage.

In the Ducks net, we are likely to see John Gibson. The talented netminder has not had a very good month, however, he has the ability to steal any game - as Avs fans saw earlier this month.

UPDATE: it is Hunter Miska that will be starting for the Avs tonight