The Dallas Stars come to Ball Arena for a Central Division showdown with the Colorado Avalanche tonight. These two clubs just met on Sunday for a matinee contest, and Colorado dominated most of the action and secured a 4-0 shutout. Colorado is 17-0-2 in their last nineteen games and has a nine-point cushion on the Western Conference. Dallas is on the outside looking in and vying for a wildcard spot as they sit three points back of the Ducks, who hold the second wildcard position.
The Avalanche’s success is more than worth noting and amplifying this season. If they stick to their current trajectory, they could be the winningest regular-season team in NHL history. The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens finished their season with sixty wins and twelve OTL, resulting in 132 total points. Colorado is currently on pace to finish with 128 points this season.
Nathan MacKinnon took no time to return to form following his facial injury and subsequent surgery. Look for him to continue that tonight. It should come as no surprise, considering MacKinnon is one of the league’s fiercest competitors.
When asked about having a healthy lineup for a change, Bednar told Altitude Radio, “It’s certainly nice... I really like the way we played with the lineup the way it was.” We should get the same lineup we saw Sunday from Bednar and company for tonight’s game.
Gabriel Landeskog - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin - Nazem Kadri - Andre Burakovsky
J.T. Compher - Alex Newhook - Logan O’Connor
Darren Helm - Tyson Jost - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Jack Johnson - Samuel Girard
Kurtis MacDermid - Erik Johnson
Note: Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar pointed toward the inevitable return of defenseman Jacob MacDonald, who sustained a concussion back in December.
The Stars are still a heavy and gritty squad with one of the game’s peskiest players in Captain Jamie Benn. Benn and veteran forward Joe Pavelski have long been considered Av-killers and always seem to show out in Denver. Keep an eye on how Kurtis MacDermid and Benn interact this evening.
No team likes to get shut out, and thus bad blood between these two teams may boil over if the Stars again can’t keep up with Colorado. I expect Dallas to come hot out of the gates in this one and give the Avs a bit more pushback than they did on Sunday.
Jason Robertson - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Denis Gurianov
Michael Raffl - Luke Glendening - Joel Kiviranta
Tanner Kero - Jacob Peterson - Alexander Radulov
Ryan Sutter - Miro Heiskanen
Esa Lindell - Jani Hakanpaa
Thomas Harley - Joel Hanley
Dallas will likely go with Jake Oettinger, who has looked good so far in his young career. He comes in with thirteen wins in twenty games, a GAA of 2.58, and a SV% of 9.10. Oettinger is coming off back-to-back victories against the Winnipeg Jets and Nashville Predators.
Colorado could go with either keeper tonight, given both are on absolute heaters. In his last ten starts, Darcy Kuemper has seven regulation wins, including two shutouts. Since returning from injury, Pavel Francouz has seven victories in eight starts and has two shutouts in his last three.