After an impressive 6-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings last night, the Colorado Avalanche head into their regular season finale with one bit of business left to take care of. A win tonight will give the Avalanche first place in the West Division while securing them their third Presidents’ Trophy in franchise history.
More importantly than the Presidents’ Trophy, a win tonight would give the Avalanche home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. That will give Head Coach Jared Bednar the advantage of having the last change more often than not - something that will allow the Avs to dictate the matchups on a shift-by-shift basis.
While having the last change would be the biggest advantage of finishing first overall, the Avalanche would also have the benefit of starting each series at home in Ball Arena.
A place that will likely have a much different feel going into the playoffs as KSE has been granted permission to expand attendance to 42% (7,750) staring with Game 1 for both the Avalanche and the Denver Nuggets.
One more in, that’s all it takes for this young Avalanche team to solidify their spot as the top team in the NHL. The last time they won the Presidents’ Trophy was back in 2001 - and we all know what happened that season.
Last night was the JT Compher show. Playing more minutes than he’s seen all season, Compher finished the game with a hat trick - pushing his season total to 10 goals in 47 games. On top of Compher’s performance, Andre Burakovsky recorded an assist, pushing his season-high point streak to seven games.
Seeing the secondary and tertiary scoring excel the way they have been lately is a great sign as this team seems to be rounding into optimal form at the perfect time.
While winning tonight has huge implications, the main goal of tonight’s game will be getting through 60 minutes without anyone getting hurt.
We don’t know how tonight’s lineup will look but we do know that Nathan MacKinnon will be sitting out again. There’s a chance a few others take the night off as well.
If Nazem Kadri is in the lineup for this regular season finale, he will be the only Avalanche player to skate in all 56 games this season.
Gabriel Landeskog - Tyson Jost - Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky - Nazem Kadri - Joonas Donskoi
Val Nichushkin - Alex Newhook - J.T. Compher
Jayson Menga - Peirre Eduoard Bellemare - Kiefer Sherwood
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Ryan Graves - Sam Girard
Patrik Nemeth - Connor Timmins
Earlier this morning, the NHL announced the beginning of the playoff schedule. If the Avalanche win tonight, they will have three nights off before starting their opening series on Monday against the Blues. Should the lose, the Avs will have only two days off and will begin their series Sunday against Minnesota.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
As for the Kings, they will be looking to play spoiler tonight. After been embarrassed a night ago, this young lineup will look to end their season on a high note.
Adrian Kempe will be looking to get one like goal pushing his season totals to 15 goals and 30 assists. Yes, that’s how little the King’s have to ply for tonight.
Adrian Kempe - Anze Kopitar - Andre Athanasiou
Alex Iafallo - Gabriel Vilardi - Lias Andersson
Trevor Moore - Rasmus Kupari - Austin Wagner
Brendan Lemieux - Jaret Anderson-Dolan - Carl Gundstrom
Michael Anderson - Drew Doughty
Tobias Brjornfot - Matt Roy
Olli Maatta - Sean Walker
With Philipp Grubauer playing last night, we will be seeing backup Jonas Johansson between the pipes tonight. Johansson comes into the game with a 4-1-1 record and a .907 sv% during his time with the Avalanche.
Who the Kings start is anyone’s guess. Cal Petersen started last night but that doesn’t mean he will rest tonight. We saw Petersen start both games of the back-to-back against the Avs just last week. If it’s not Petersen, AHL veteran Troy Grosenick is likely to get his second start with the Kings.