Colorado Avalanche: 25-8-4
Minnesota Wild: 23-11-2
Puck Drop: 6:00 p.m. MT
Watch: Altitude, BSMW
Listen: Altitude 92.5, AM 950
The Colorado Avalanche head into Monday night with a four-point lead in the West division. However, that is not a large amount and the importance to keep winning is crucial for Colorado. Tonight, they have a chance to win their fifth straight game, as well as pick up their fifth win of the season against the Minnesota Wild. Colorado is 8-0-2 in their last 10 and have been one of the hottest teams in the league lately.
The Avs have had nothing but success recently, finding ways to win in all kinds of different ways. Whether that be high-scoring 5-2 and 9-3 wins where they dominate all night, or one-goal games like they beat the St. Louis Blues with over their past two games. They’ve even managed to get some points while newly acquired Jonas Johansson has been playing, which is impressive just given where he is on their depth chart when everyone is healthy.
Nathan MacKinnon is starting to score at the rate everyone expected recently. It was mentioned in last game's pre-game article, but he followed that up with another goal on Saturday night. Cale Makar also found his way on the scoresheet for the game-winner and the Avs look to take the momentum forward today.
Phillip Grubauer is the likely starter tonight, which shouldn’t come by surprise. He has been one of the top goalies in the league all year and given Colorado’s health issues at the backup position, they’ll be asking him to play a bunch. Hopefully, the Avs can get a cushion at some point in the division so Grubauer can get a rest and isn’t tired come playoff time. But for now, he is playing lights out so why would you not roll with him?
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky – Nazem Kadri – Brandon Saad
Valeri Nichushkin – Tyson Jost – Joonas Donskoi
Liam O’Brien – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – JT Compher
Devon Toews – Samuel Girard
Ryan Graves – Cale Makar
Jacob MacDonald – Greg Pateryn
The Wild have been one of the most surprising teams so far this season. Many thought they had a chance at the fourth seed in this division. However, almost no one thought they’d be a threat. Instead, they have shown themselves to be very clearly the third-best team in the division this year and a team that you probably don’t want to play in round one. It’s what makes the first seed so valuable... Anyone in that fourth seed looks like they will be a clear step down from the Wild.
The upgrade at goaltending has done wonders for them this season. Cam Talbot is the perfect guy to just give average goaltending when needed. The emergence of rookie Kaapo Kahkonen has been a huge development for the team too. Upfront, everyone knows that Kirill Kaprizov is the real deal. However, development from Joel Eriksson Ek into a legit two-way centreman has been huge. It’s allowed to move Viktor Rask down the lineup, and play easier competition at times with a strong teammate in Kevin Fiala.
Finally, this team's strength still comes from the loaded blueline. They have an offensive touch you need to respect but are still one of the better defensive teams in the league. Colorado will need to remain patient as they look for opportunities to score in this one.
Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Kirill Kaprizov
Kevin Fiala - Victor Rask - Nick Bonino
Marcus Johansson - Ryan Hartman - Nick Bjugstad
Nico Strum - Luke Johnson - Kyle Rau
Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Mathew Dumba
Ian Cole - Carson Soucy