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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: A quick trip to the desert

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The Avalanche head to Arizona for a quick two game series

NHL: Arizona Coyotes at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche: 19-8-2
Arizona Coyotes: 13-13-5
Puck Drop: 8:00 p.m. MT
Watch: ESPN+, Altitude, FS-A
Listen: Altitude 92.5, AM 950

After a season-long nine game home stand, the Avalanche head back on the road for a back-to-back series with the Arizona Coyotes. Riding a six game winning streak - their last loss coming to the Coyotes - and going 8-1-1 in their last ten games, the Avalanche are playing their best hockey of the season.

After a slow start to the season, the Avalanche now sit only three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for top spot in the West Division.

Arizona is a team going in the opposite direction having lost five of their last six games.

Colorado Avalanche

With Cale Makar and Bo Byram back in the lineup, the Avalanche are as healthy as they’ve been in a long while. With the team near full compliment, the Avalanche have been getting progressively better - leading to them completely dominating their competition over the last two weeks.

With the way the team has been playing, we should expect Coach Bednar to run the same lineup out tonight as we saw Saturday afternoon.

That said, Conor Timmins was on the ice for a full workout yesterday - a good sign that he’s recovering from his injury.

UPDATE: The newly acquired Jonas Johansson will backup Grubauer tonight meaning we might see him start tomorrow.

Projected Lines

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Brandon Saad – Nazem Kadri– Andre Burakovsky
Joonas Donskoi – Tyson Jost - Valeri Nichushkin
Matt Calvert - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – J.T. Compher

Defense

Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Jacob MacDonald - Samuel Girard
Bo Byram - Ryan Graves

Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes are among the lowest scoring teams in the NHL having tallied only 77 goals in 31 games this season. Conor Garland leads the way with 25 points has he is having a breakout season among the team’s struggles.

Jakob Chychrun has made the jump from “young potential” into a legitimate impact defenseman in the NHL. With the Coyotes looking to be sellers at the deadline, there is talk that Chychrun could be the lone untouchable on the roster - as he should be.

Projected Lines

Forwards

Clayton Keller — Nick Schmaltz — Conor Garland

Drake Caggiula — Cristian Dvorak — Phil Kessel

Lawson Crouse — Derick Brassard — Tyler Pitlick

Christian Fischer — Johan Larsson - Hudson Fasching

Defense

Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Ilya Lyubushkin
Jakob Chychrun — Alex Goligoski
Jordan Oesterle — Niklas Hjalmarsson

Starting Goalies

With a back-to-back Philipp Grubauer is likely to get a night off during the trip but he is expected to be between the pipes tonight for the Avalanche. He is putting up a Vezina caliber season sporting a 18-7-0 record and a .929 sv%.

With Darcy Kuemper on the IR, we will see Anti Raanta and Adin Hill for the Coyotes during this two game set. Raanta is projected to get the start tonight but he too has been nursing an injury so the coacehs might decide to give him an extra night off and wait to play him tomorrow.