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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: Welcome back to Ball Arena, Avs Faithful!

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Colorado welcomes in Arizona and looks to add to their 11-game point streak, will play in front of fans for the first time in over a year.

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

Colorado Avalanche: 22-8-4

Arizona Coyotes: 16-14-5

Puck Drop: 7:30 p.m. MT

Watch: Altitude, BSAZ

Listen: Altitude 92.5, AM 950

The Colorado Avalanche look to earn a win and points in their 12th straight game as they host the Arizona Coyotes for a one-off matchup. The Avs’ spot atop the Honda West Division standings was short lived on Monday evening as the Vegas Golden Knights took care of business against the LA Kings. However, San Jose did the Avs’ a favor and kept the Minnesota Wild from gaining two points as the Sharks pulled out a win thanks to a missile of a slap shot from defenseman Erik Karlsson in the late stages of a multiple-round, sudden-death shootout. Checkout his postgame presser for a good laugh as well.

The Avs remain in second position with 48 points — just one behind Vegas.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche are arguably the hottest team in the NHL right now and they will be looking to build off of that success this evening as they play host to the Arizona Coyotes.

The Avs are coming off of a commanding 5-2 win against the Anaheim Ducks in a game that served up more than its fair share of chippiness. The Ducks were clearly mismatched right from puck drop and therefore had to resort to playing dirty and trying to throw the superior Avs team off its game — it didn’t work. The Avs will need to be careful going forward to strike a balance between maintaining their composure and knowing when to stand their ground. It’s beginning to appear that the only way to gain any sort of advantage against what is shaping up to be a juggernaut of a Avs squad is to, unfortunately, play dirty and try to take players out of the game either by penalization or (god forbid) by injury.

Coach Jared Bednar was asked about the status of Bowen Byram during his Tuesday press conference and mentioned that the rookie defenseman would not be available for tonight’s contest. He did mention, however, that Byram has been progressing and starting to skate and that he would be reevaluated for the weekend’s slate of games against St. Louis. Expect the same lineup that we saw on Monday.

Tonight’s contest will prove extra special as, for the first time in over a year, the Avalanche will be playing in front of a live audience. An expected total of 4,050 fans will “pack” Ball Arena this evening and cheer on the hometown squad as this contest marks exactly 384 days since their overtime win against the New York Rangers on March 12th, 2020 — one day before the NHL paused the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 4,050 tickets for tonight’s contest have been awarded to frontline healthcare workers and their families as a small token of appreciation for their selfless efforts over the past year serving the Denver community in helping to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

Projected Lines

Forwards

Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky – Nazem Kadri – Brandon Saad
Valeri Nichushkin – Tyson Jost – Joonas Donskoi
Logan O’Connor – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – JT Compher

Defense

Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Jacob MacDonald – Samuel Girard
Ryan Graves – Dan Renouf

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona comes into tonight’s contest riding a three-game win streak and sits only a point back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the West Division. The Avs should expect to see a hungry and determined Desert crew and it’ll be imperative that they control pace of play right away. Arizona has proved to be a thorn in the side of the Avs on a number of occasions this season as they don’t mind playing a patient, grind-it-out style of game.

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
JJakob Chychrun — Alex Goligoski
Jordan Oesterle — Niklas Hjalmarsson

Goaltenders

Philipp Grubauer is once again expected in net for the Avalanche as he’s coming off of his 100th career win on Monday against Anaheim and looks to continue his Vezina trophy caliber season. Grubauer is either leading or near the top of every major statistical goaltending category:

GAA: 1.74 (3rd)*

Save %: 0.929 (T-4th)**

Wins: 21 (1st)

Shutouts: 5 (1st)

* - the two statistical leaders ahead of Grubauer (P. Mrazek, CAR & J. Campbell, TOR) have only played a total of two and six games, respectively.

** - two of the three statistical leaders ahead of Grubauer (P. Mrazek, CAR & J. Campbell, TOR) have only played a total of two and six games, respectively.

The German netminder entered elite company with his win on Monday joining Olaf Kölzig and Thomas Greiss as only the third German-born netminder to earn at least 100 career NHL wins. He spoke with NHL Network about the milestone and the Avs’ success so far this season.

Arizona is still without starting goaltender Darcy Kuemper and backup Antti Raanta. Expect Adin Hill to backstop the Desert Dogs this evening.