Tonight, the Seattle Kraken will face the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena for the first time in franchise history. In July of 2021, we saw former Avalanche netminder Philipp Gruabauer ink a six-year 35.4 million dollar contract with the league’s newest team in the Kraken. His return to Denver will undoubtedly be celebrated, and deservedly so. Grubauer is the 5th winningest goalie in Avalanche history and posted a .918 save percentage in Burgundy. Joonas Donskoi will also make his return to Ball Arena.
The Avs are coming into tonight’s contest as one of the hottest teams in the league. They are top 5 in terms of points percentage, securing 71% of the possible points through thirty-one games played. The Avalanche are undefeated in 2022 and look to extend their win streak to five games tonight. Colorado’s comeback/overtime victory this past Saturday over the Toronto Maple Leafs should serve as a boost to an already buzzing Avalanche squad.
Head Coach Jared Bednar is altering the Avalanche penalty kill unit in personnel and scheme, according to Jesse Montano of DNVR. These changes should come as no surprise considering the PK seems to be the only glaring weakness in Colorado’s approach.
Jared Bednar and Nolan Pratt have been discussing the details of the penalty kill for a good 10-15 minutes after practice has ended. pic.twitter.com/PtMfDMhRYw— Jesse Montano (@jessemontano_) January 10, 2022
The Avalanche will be without Captain Gabriel Landeskog, who has entered COVID protocol. Landeskog has five goals in his last five games and was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week. On the bright side, we may see the return of forward Valeri Nichushkin.
Gabriel Landeskog tested positive for COVID-19, Jared Bednar said. #Avs— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) January 10, 2022
Andre Burakovsky - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin - Nazem Kadri - Logan O’Connor
JT Compher - Alex Newhook - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Kurtis MacDermid - Tyson Jost - Darren Helm
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Bowen Byram - Samuel Girard
Erik Johnson - Ryan Murray
The Kraken have had the typical first go around for an expansion team. We haven’t seen the immediate success that the Vegas Golden Knights were fortunate enough to experience. Seattle can be found among the league’s bottom feeders, only accumulating twenty-four points through thirty-three contests.
Winger Jordan Eberle has been a bright spot in an otherwise dismal year. He leads the team in points with twenty-two and has amassed twelve goals this season.
Marcus Johansson - Jared McCann - Jordan Eberle
Calle Jarnkrok - Yanni Gourde - Colin Blackwell
Ryan Donato - Alex Wannberg - Joonas Donskoi
Morgan Geekie - Riley Sheahan - Mason Appleton
Mark Giordano - Jamie Oleksiak
Carson Soucy - Adam Larsson
Vince Dunn - William Borgen
Pavel Francouz will get his first start for Colorado since returning from injury. After being thrown into a 3-0 game against the Maple Leafs, he looked stout in the net. He even made a game-saving stop in OT that afforded the Avs a chance at securing the OT point.
Given Grubauer’s history with the Avalanche, the Kraken will likely start Philipp unless something unforeseen happens. Grubauer comes in with a .882 SV% and GAA of 3.3.