We are one hour away from puck drop! It has been a tough week for the Colorado Avalanche, who look to get things going after losing two straight. It started off on the right foot with a win against Minnesota, but then suffered losses to Winnipeg and Seattle. They’ll surely look at this game as a chance to right the ship. Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights definitely sees this as a golden opportunity to continue building their early-season momentum.
Colorado isn’t playing particularly poorly, as they currently sit 7th in the NHL in Corsi for percentage at 5-on-5, they just aren’t sharp, as demonstrated by their perfectly mediocre ranking of 16th in the NHL in expected goals at 5-on-5.
While the Avs are struggling to meet their exceptionally high bar at 5-on-5, the power play is white hot, sitting first in the NHL and converting at a mind-boggling pace of 46.7%. The penalty kill is still very much a work in progress, as it sits dead last in the league at 57.9%. Some hope for that unit emerged last night against Seattle, as Valeri Nichushkin kept up his blistering early-season point production and found Bowen Byram for a game-tying shorty.
Artturi Lehkonen—Nathan Mackinnon—Mikko Raantanen
Valeri Nichushkin—J.T. Compher—Evan Rodrigues
Andrew Cogliano—Alex Newhook—Logan O’Connor
Dryden Hunt—Jayson Megna—Martin Kaut
Bowen Byram—Cale Makar
Samuel Girard—Josh Manson
Kurtis MacDermid—Erik Johnson
Note: Last night, Martin Kaut was announced as the second-line right-wing, but he was quickly demoted to the 4th line while Evan Rodrigues and Logan O’Connor were elevated to the second and third lines. Additionally, Valeri Nichushkin and Artturi Lehkonen flipped spots on the first and second lines for a portion of last night as well. The only certainty right now is that Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen are on the top line. Every other spot in the lineup seems to be up for grabs on a shift-by-shift basis as Jared Bednar tries to find combinations of players he can lean on.