clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Colorado Avalanche Gameday: Win in Finland

The Colorado Avalanche take on the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first of back to back games in Finland

NHL: Colorado Avalanche at Columbus Blue Jackets Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche have been off all week preparing for back-to-back games against the Blue Jackets in Tampere, Finland, and today the first one has finally arrived. After blowing a 3-0 lead in Long Island before heading overseas, the Avalanche will look to bounce back by extending Columbus’ early season losing streak to 4 straight Ls.

Both teams have spent the week exploring Tampere with their Finnish stars, Mikko Rantanen and Patrick Laine, and should be ready to showcase the NHL in front of a crowd that is expected to be equal parts Avs and Jackets fans.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs have gotten off to a rough start to the season, with injuries and off season departures sapping the forward depth of the consistent forechecking structure that fans and coaches grew accustomed to during last year’s Stanley Cup run. Gabe Landeskog and Darren Helm remain out, but Valeri Nichushkin is expected to return to the lineup and will look to build on his strong start to the season.

The distribution of minutes among the forwards will be something to watch, as coach Jared Bednar has shown a lack of trust in young players like Mikhail Maltsev and Martin Kaut in restricting them to 5-6 minutes a night while giving heavy ice time to his top line of Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and either Artturi Lehkonen or Evan Rodrigues. Overusing those top guys early in the season, especially in back to backs, may be a recipe for disaster - can the youth movement earn his trust with strong play in Europe?

The defense corps remains a source of strength for Colorado, though Norris Trophy and Conn Smythe winner Cale Makar has had a somewhat rocky start by the lofty expectations set for him. He has been an assist machine, but no goals through nine games still feels like a disappointment. Can he turn that around after a refreshing week in Finnish saunas?

Projected Lineup

Evan Rodrigues (9) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Alex Newhook (18) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - J.T. Compher (37) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Dryden Hunt (22) - Mikhail Maltsev (57) - Martin Kaut (61)

Devon Toews (7) - Cale Makar (8)
Bowen Byram (4) - Josh Manson (42)
Sam Girard (49) - Erik Johnson (6)

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets landed free agent superstar Johnny Gaudreau from the Calgary Flames to pair with offensive dynamo Patrick Laine, but an early season injury to Laine and a revolving door at center between them has prevented the chemistry between the high powered forwards from developing to this point.

With a mix of young players finding their footing in the league and aging players losing theirs throughout the rest of Columbus’s forward lineup, offense has not been a strength for CBJ so far this season.

Defense, unfortunately, has not been a strength either as their group consists of bonafide top pair dman Zach Werenski, definite NHLer Vladislav Gavrikov, some young players looking to prove they belong, and Erik Gudbranson who is quite bad and does not belong. It’s rough in Columbus and while the youth are promising, the future is not here yet.

Projected Lineup

Patrik Laine (13)- Jack Roslovic (96)- Johnny Gaudreau (29)
Gus Nyquist (14) - Boone Jenner (38)- Kent Johnson (91)
Yegor Chinakhkov (59) - Cole Sillinger (34) - Jake Voracek (93)
Eric Robinson (50) - Sean Kuraly (7) - Liam Foudy (19)

Zach Werenski (8) - Nick Blankenberg (77)
Vladislav Gavrikov (4) - Andrew Peeke (2)
Jake Bean (22) - Erik Gudbranson (44)


Expect to see backups Pavel Francouz and Joonas Korpisalo in the first game of the back to back, and starters Alexandar Georgiev and Elvis Merzlikins tomorrow.