The Colorado Avalanche continue their season-long, nine-game homestand tonight at Ball Arena as they welcome in the Arizona Coyotes for the first matchup between these two Honda West Division rivals at the newly renamed home of the Avs.
Colorado is coming off of a 5-4 OT loss to the Anaheim Ducks – a loss that saw the team go down by two goals early, bounce back and score four unanswered, only to then blow a two-goal lead of their own down the stretch and then lose in the extra frame. Woof. While that type of performance can’t continue, the Avs are 4-1-1 in their last six contests and have another seven games at home before going back out on the road.
A storyline to monitor going forward is the status of defenseman Erik Johnson. On Saturday, Johnson was placed on long-term IR which indicates that he is not expected to return anytime soon (no surprise there), but this move frees up his cap hit. What the Avalanche are planning to do with it we can only speculate. But given the injury-riddled state of the team, one can infer that Avs’ general manager Joe Sakic might be looking to bring in a veteran piece or two help bolster one or more positional groups down the stretch. Given the injury to backup goaltender Pavel Francouz and no real timetable for his return as well as the serious lack of goaltending depth behind starter Philipp Grubauer, you have to wonder if Sakic will start shopping for a veteran backup ahead of the trade deadline on April 12th. This might prove to be more difficult as most of the serviceable backups are already off the market.
There have been no new updates on the injury front to Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar, Bowen Byram, JT Compher, or Matt Calvert as of coach Jared Bednar’s postgame presser on Saturday night. Bednar did mention that MacKinnon and Byram were feeling better and that both would be skating in practice on Sunday, but there was no official timetable for their respective returns to the lineup. Expect coach Bednar to use the same lineup he did against Anaheim on Saturday.
Gabriel Landeskog – Nazem Kadri - Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky – Tyson Jost – Brandon Saad
Valeri Nichushkin – Jayson Megna - Valeri Nichushkin
Logan O’Connor - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Kiefer Sherwood
Devon Toews – Ryan Graves
Jacob MacDonald - Samuel Girard
Daniel Renouf - Conor Timmins
Arizona is looking for revenge against this Avs squad who came into the desert a little over a week ago and swept the first two-game set between the two clubs including a 6-2 trouncing in their most recent matchup.
The Desert Dogs are coming off of a 5-2 win against fellow division rival Minnesota and look to build off that success. The Coyotes have built a 11-10-3 mark on the season and currently sit in fifth position in the Honda West standings.
Expect to see a different goaltender between the pipes for Arizona tonight as Darcy Kuemper reemerged for the Yotes on Saturday against Minnesota. Avs fans know Kuemper well as he stood on his head on multiple occasions during the first round series between these two squads in the Edmonton playoff bubble back in August. Let’s hope the Avs can solve Keumper early on.
Clayton Keller — Nick Schmaltz — Conor Garland
Lawson Crouse — Christian Dvorak — Tyler Pitlick
Drake Caggiula — Derick Brassard — Phil Kessel
Christian Fischer — Johan Larsson — John Hayden
Oliver Ekman-Larsson — Ilya Lyubushkin
Jakob Chychrun — Alex Goligoski
Jordan Oesterle — Niklas Hjalmarsson