The Colorado Avalanche will play their third game in four days tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC. Both teams sit atop their conference standings and remain first (Colorado) and second (Carolina) in the entire league.
The Avalanche have hit their first slump since the first week of the regular season. They have lost three of their last four contests and clearly had some tired legs in a loss to the young and firey New Jersey Devils.
Head Coach Jared Bednar was not too pleased with his team’s performance, and rightfully so. Anytime you squander a 3-0 lead, you should be disappointed, especially when it’s to one of the least experienced teams in the NHL. It was the second of a back-to-back amid the most hectic part of the schedule, so I’ll give the boys the benefit of the doubt.
The Avalanche now has five players in the top twenty-five point scorers, including defenseman Cale Makar. Look for the top line to make a resurgence and keep a close watch on Mikko Rantanen. Despite catching some heat from Avs fans, he is currently tied for ninth among top point-getters with sixty-seven.
Andre Burakovsky - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Gabriel Landeskog - Nazem Kadri - Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Newhook - JT Compher - Logan O’Connor
Darren Helm - Tyson Jost - Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Jack Johnson - Samuel Girard
Ryan Murray - Erik Johnson
The Hurricanes are all too familiar with the taste of victory this season. Much like the Avalanche, Carolina has been able to string consecutive wins together frequently this year. They have won two straight heading into tonight’s contest.
Sabastian Aho leads Carolina in both goals and assists in fifty-three games played. Born in Rauma, Finland, Aho has become one of the NHL’s most reliable forwards and has solidified himself among the leadership group in Carolina.
NOTE: The Hurricanes will be without defender Jake Gardner who is on Injured Reserve; Brendan Smith and Tony DeAngelo are also listed as out for tonight’s game.
Andrei Scechnikov - Sebastian Aho - Teuvo Teravainen
Jordan Martinook - Vincent Trocheck - Martin Necas
Nino Niederreiter - Jordan Staal - Jasper Fast
Steven Lorentz - Jesperi Kotkaniemi - Seth Jarvis
Jacob Slavin - Ethan Bear
Brady Skjei - Brett Pesce
Ian Cole - Jalen Chatfield
I’d imagine the Avalanche will go with Pavel Francouz tonight since he will be coming in with two nights’ rest. Both tenders have struggled recently, but neither has had much help from the squad in front of them. Too many odd-man rushes and O-zone turnovers have contributed to their downturn.
Carolina will likely go with their ace Antti Raanta against the Avalanche. Raanta gets the start after securing the win in his last against the Seattle Kraken, in which he only allowed two goals on thirty shots.