We’ve got Friday night hockey in Denver as the Colorado Avalanche host the Seattle Kraken. Both teams are coming off overtime losses and feeling basically the opposite about it, and it should be a hard-fought game between two teams with something to prove in front of a raucous crowd ready to sing “work sucks!” at the top of their lungs.
The Avalanche are coming off a disappointing overtime loss at home to the Winnipeg Jets where they came out flat and could not generate enough offense from lines not centered by Nathan Mackinnon. Seattle is another team that the Avalanche should beat on paper, but as the early season lineup shuffle is demonstrating, these aren’t the same Avalanche who beat Tampa Bay in six games earlier this year. The lineup is in flux, and Jared Bednar is trying out a bunch of different combinations to try to carry the non-Mackinnon minutes until Darren Helm gets back from injury and Ben Meyers finishes up his apprenticeship in Loveland to gain a little more polish.
It’s not as bad as that Jets game made it feel at times, as the Avalanche are still in good shape as the offense is clicking and the power play remains lethal. They just need to clean up the defensive coverage and get better on the forecheck and we’ll start seeing the glimpses of greatness we’re so used to.
Valeri Nichushkin is taking note of everyone who said his new contract was too expensive. He’s second in the NHL in goals with five and tied with Nathan Mackinnon for 3rd in points with eight.
Colorado is just rolling through some normal early-season turbulence as it weathers injuries and an uncertain bottom six that in all likelihood come April will have at least one veteran on it who is currently not on the roster. Gabriel Landeskog is out for twelve weeks, and that is a reasonable period of time for Avs fans to cut this team some slack. We won’t see the best version of the Avalanche until next year.
Artturi Lehkonen—Nathan MacKinnon—Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin—J.T. Compher—Martin Kaut
Andrew Cogliano—Alex Newhook—Evan Rodrigues
Anton Blidh—Jayson Megna—Logan O’Connor
Devon Toews—Cale Makar
Bowen Byram—Josh Manson
Samuel Girard—Erik Johnson
Note: Colorado claimed Dryden Hunt off waivers yesterday to help reinforce the bottom six, and if he plays would likely slot into the bottom line, perhaps in place of Blidh. Maybe it’s Kurtis MacDermid’s night, or perhaps Kaut or one of the third-liners gets dropped down. As we have detailed in this section lately, the Avalanche's bottom six combinations are operating on a shift-by-shift basis right now.
The Kraken comes into Colorado in a similar situation to the Avalanche, but with a very different feeling about it. Despite losing in OT, the Kraken are encouraged that they were able to hang with the St. Louis Blues for over 60 minutes. Andre Burakovsky has played well, leading the team with five points, which ties him with a lot of people for 20th in the NHL, including Cale Makar.
Seattle's second line is one to watch, as it features two solid veterans flanking a wildly talented prospect in Matty Beniers—who was a Hobey Baker finalist last year at the University of Michigan.
Matty Beniers of the @SeattleKraken joined Jonathan Toews and Joe Sakic as the third teenager in League history to find the score sheet in at least 11 of his first 12 career NHL games. #NHLStats: https://t.co/x8jvGzJfbK pic.twitter.com/CVykadvDgD— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 14, 2022
Andre Burakovsky—Alex Wennberg—Oliver Bjorkstrand
Jaden Schwartz—Matty Beniers—Jordan Eberle
Jared McCann—Yanni Gourde—Karson Kuhlman
Ryan Donato—Shane Wright—Brandon Tanev
Vince Dunn—Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak—Justin Schultz
Carson Soucy—Will Borgen
Pavel Francouz has only played one game this season to Alexandar Georgiev’s three. Given that the Kraken is a significant underdog, it’s likely the Avs start their backup. Francouz is undoubtedly looking to generate some momentum for himself, as his lone appearance this year came in the 5-3 loss at Calgary.
Martin Jones and Philipp Grubauer have been alternating games so far, and given that Jones played Wednesday night against the Blues, it’s likely that Grubauer starts, which would make this game a battle between the 2019-2021 Colorado Avalanche goaltender room.
Seattle’s netminding continues to be a problem, as Martin Jones ranks 43rd in the NHL in save percentage while former Av Philipp Grubauer ranks dead last at 49th. Colorado is not a team you want to face when you’re unsure about your goaltending, and over-bettors are surely salivating over this game.