After a couple of weeks of doom and gloom, the Colorado Avalanche are finally getting healthy, and they have put together an encouraging stretch of play. Their three-game point streak was derailed last time against Buffalo, as they were just a bit too sloppy to take advantage of a game they largely controlled from start to finish, but there is still plenty of hope that the worst is behind them. The Avs will look to bounce back against Nashville, who sit just four points behind the Avs despite their -19 goal differential, which is fourth-worst in the Western Conference, making them a bit of an enigma right now.
Five games ago, I titled my game preview “The Colorado Eagles host the Boston Bruins.” That night, the Avs started a whopping eight players from the AHL (nine if you count Martin Kaut, who was sent down not too long afterward), and things looked about as bleak for the Avs as it gets. Since then, Artturi Lehkonen, Val Nichushkin, and Evan Rodrigues have returned, while Darren Helm and Kurtis MacDermid are practicing. Every other day we get a new report on Gabriel Landeskog skating, and Bowen Byram has been spotted in workout clothes at practice while Josh Manson continues to skate in a non-contact jersey. It seems as if the worst of the injury bug has passed the Avs, and the lines are looking much more robust as a new NHLer gets added to the lineup every week these days.
In the practice following the Sabres game, Jared Bednar tried out two new top lines as he welcomes key forwards back, which will likely shuffle some of the bottom six, particularly the Hudon-Meyers-Foudy line that has played so well together. With J.T. Compher being elevated to the top line, that likely means Ben Meyers will get his spot between Andrew Cogliano and Logan O’Connor. However, Bednar has proven he will shuffle lines in-game if he is not happy with how a line looks, so don’t be surprised to see Charles Hudon on the grind line, given his impressive play as of late.
Mikko Rantanen (96) – J.T. Compher (37) – Artturi Lehkonen (62)
Alex Newhook (18) – Evan Rodrigues (9) – Val Nichushkin (13)
Andrew Cogliano (11) – Ben Meyers (59) – Logan O’Connor (25)
Dryden Hunt (22) – Charles Hudon (54) – Jean-Luc Foudy (93)
Cale Makar (8) – Devon Toews (7)
Erik Johnson (6) – Samuel Girard (49)
Andreas Englund (88) – Brad Hunt (17)