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Colorado Avalanche Game Day: A little matinee action

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The Avalanche have clinched a playoff spot, now it’s time to fight for the top seed

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at St. Louis Blues Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

With a win over St. Louis on Thursday night, the Colorado Avalanche became the second team in the NHL to clinch a playoff spot.

This afternoon, the Avalanche will look to win their sixth game in a row and pull closer to the Vegas Golden Knights for the top spot in the West Division.

The Avs won the first game in this three game series with the Blues after a 4-2 decision Thursday night. The team will look to build on that despite still missing a few key pieces of the lineup - most notably Mikko Rantanen.

Today might be a trap game for the Avalanche. Having just clinched a playoff spot while playing an early game as the second of a three game series - this one has the potential for the Blues to catch Colorado on a bit of a let down.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs got some good news Friday evening as starting goalie Philipp Grubauer was removed from the NHL’s COVID protocol list. He will not be activated for the game but this is a huge step towards Grubauer getting back in the lineup. There is a good chance that the goaltender - along with rookie defender Bo Byram - will rejoin the team when they head to Vegas next week.

Due to the early start, there won’t be a game day skate so see the lineup but with Rantanen and Joonas Donskoi still out and with the way the team played on Thursday, it is likely that we won’t see any changes this afternoon.

Projected Lineup

Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Andre Burakovsky

Carl Soderberg - Nazem Kadri - J.T. Compher

Brandon Saad - Tyson Jost - Val Nichushkin

Liam O’Brien - Pierre Edouard Bellemare - Martin Kaut

Samuel Girard - Devon Toews

Ryan Graves - Cale Makar

Patrick Nemeth - Conor Timmins

St. Louis Blues

Currently sitting fifth in the West Division, every game from here on out has major playoff implications for the Blues. Unable to score as of late, the team is going to need to find a way to get out of the funk they’ve been in over the last month. Unfortunately two more games against the Avalanche could make the hole they find themselves in get even deeper.

The Blues can be encourage that despite the result, they outplayed the Avalanche pretty substantially at 5v5. There was a lot of good to build on.

Jaden Schwartz was the best St. Louis player on the ice as he scored both goals for the Blues - one on the powerplay and one at even strength.

Projected Lineup

Samuel Blais - Ryan O’Reilly - David Perron

Jaden Schwartz - Brayden Schenn - Vladmir Tarasenko

Zach Sanford - Tyler Bozak - Robert Thomas

Kyle Clifford - Ivan Barbashev - Jordan Kyrou

Torey Krug - Justin Faulk

Marco Scandella - Vince Dunn

Jake Walman - Colton Parayko

Goaltending

Devan Dubnyk looked good for the Avs in their last outing stopping 25 of the 27 shots he faced. Coach Bednar might decide to ride the hot hand again but we shouldn’t be surprised if he turns to Jonas Johansson - who has an outstanding .929 sv % with the Avs - for one of the remaining two games in St. Louis.

For the Blues, we will almost certainly see Jordan Binnington again. He’ll be looking to improve the 1-4 record he has against the Avalanche this season.