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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Time to double down

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The Avalanche look to win their eighth in a row tonight against the Coyotes

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Arizona Coyotes Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Colorado Avalanche: 20-8-2
Arizona Coyotes: 13-14-5
Puck Drop: 8:00 p.m. MT
Watch: Altitude, FS-A
Listen: Altitude 92.5, AM 950

It’s right back to business for the Colorado Avalanche after a dominating 5-1 victory in Arizona Monday night. Another victory over the Coyotes tonight would pull the Avalanche to within one point of top spot in the West Division.

Colorado is firing on all cylinders as they ride a seven game winning streak coming into this one. They’re playing like the Stanley Cup contender that most saw them as coming into the season and health permitting, this team looks poised to show everyone just how dominant they can be over the second half of the season.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs got scoring from all four lines last night as P-E Bellmare, Mikko Rantanen, Joonas Donskoi and Nazem Kadri all recorded goals in the victory. What’s even more impressive is that all five goals came at even strength. It was the type of well-rounded performance that you want to see from a team that wants to make a long run in the playoffs.

Rantanen’s 18th of goal of the season puts him third in the NHL behind only Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid.

Aside from the net, Coach Bednar is expected to run the same lineup out tonight. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

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

Captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s power play goal in the third period was all the offense the Coyotes could muster last night. Add to that the fact that Jakob Chychrun led the team with shots on net and it’s easy to see why the forward group in Arizona is leaving a lot to be desired right now.

The team looks like they’re missing a spark. They have just looked unable to match the jump we see from the Avalanche every time these two teams go head to head.

As they tumble down the standings, guys like Phil Kessel, Alex Goligoski and Nik Hjalmarsson are probably auditioning for other teams as they are likely to be on the move out of the desert before next month’s trade deadline.

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

Adin Hill will get the nod for the Coyotes tonight. Hill comes in with a 1-3-1 record and a .908 sv%.

Coach Bednar was playing coy when asked about tonight’s starter before Monday’s game. Both Jonas Johansson and Adam Werner are with the team in Arizona so both should be ready if called upon tonight. With no game-day skate, the starter won’t be known until the warmup.