The best of seven series between the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights is knotted at two games apiece. One of these teams will claim the advantage in this series after tonight’s matchup at Ball Arena in Denver, CO.
The Avalanche were more competitive in game four, but that still wasn’t enough. The execution just hasn’t been there, and it hasn’t been there for what is widely considered the best line in the NHL. MacKinnon, Landeskog, and Rantanen were held to a mere three shots on the night in game four. If the Colorado Avalanche wants to have a chance in this series, that needs to change. Plain and simple.
The Avs made it their preseason goal to finish atop the west and secure home-ice advantage. They did just that and are hoping to enjoy the spoils of their hard work in what will now be a best of three series with two games being at home. Colorado is 22-4-2 at Ball Arena this season. Win at home, and win the series.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Brandon Saad - Tyson Jost - Andre Burakovsky
Valeri Nichushkin - JT Compher - Joonas Donskoi
Carl Soderberg - Pierre Edouard Bellemare - Keifer Sherwood (Alex Newhook)
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Sam Girard - Ryan Graves
Conor Timmins - Patrik Nemeth (Bowen Byram)
Note: Many fans called for Avalanche defender Bowern Byram to replace Patrik Nemeth after his debacle in game four. Jared Bednar did mention that special teams (penalty kill) will contribute to that decision and that Byram concerns him given his recent time away from the ice.
UPDATE: The Condor is on the ice in a regular jersey for the game day skate. It’s not likely that Johnson will be available for tonight’s game but this is a huge boost for the team - even if it is from just a moral perspective.
Johnson hasn't been doing many of the drills so far, so it's unclear if he's an option. Teammates certainly enjoy having him out there, though. Lots of stick taps. https://t.co/TArjKDC7SV— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) June 8, 2021
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
The Golden Knights are coming off their best game of the series thus far. Jonathan Marchessault was hard to miss logging the first postseason hat-trick of his career.
Vegas has controlled the play over the last eight periods of this playoff series and will do their best to continue that trend. Let’s be honest. Vegas is a great team built to make a cup run. The series was never supposed to be easy for either squad.
Max Pacioretty - Chandler Stephenson - Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault - William Karlsson - Reilly Smith
Dylan Sikura - Nicolas Roy - Alex Tuch
Will Carrier - Patrick Brown - Keegan Kolesar
Shea Theodore - Alex Pietrangelo
Alec Martinez - Nick Holden
Nicolas Hague - Zach Whitecloud
The Avalanche will go with Philipp Grubauer between the pipes. Grubauer had his worst game (statistically) in game four but otherwise has been among the best goaltenders to play in the postseason.
On the other end, Vegas will go with their Vezina Trophy candidate Marc Andre Fleury. Fleury gave up some juicy rebounds in game four and has also been very reliable throughout the playoffs.