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Preview: Avalanche visit revamped Wild

Colorado faces old rival Minnesota with some fresh and familiar faces.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche will face each other for the first time since swapping players at the trade deadline. The Wild are rolling as of late, winning five straight, and the Avs are fresh off a 6-3 regulation win over the Philadelphia Flyers.

Colorado Avalanche

On Friday, the Avalanche registered fifty-one shots against the Flyers and put on an offensive showcase. Nazem Kadri, Mikko Rantanen, Cale Makar, Erik Johnson and JT Compher all had multi-point nights and Kadri scored a Gordie Howe Hat-Trick. With his twenty-fourth of the season, Cale Makar also set the Avalanche single-season goal record. Nazem Kadri and Cale Makar both have their sights on having thirty-goal seasons with seventeen games remaining.

Colorado has had some shaky defensive performances show and have been too quick to give the puck up in their own end. I’d imagine that Head Coach Jared Bednar had many notes on how the boys could improve defensively despite beating the Flyers 6-3. Similar mistakes won’t bode so well against a talented Wild squad.

Projected Avalanche lineup:

Valeri Nichushki - Nathan MacKinnon - Mikko Rantanen
Andre Burakovsky - Nazem Kadri - J.T. Compher
Alex Newhook - Nico Sturm - Logan O’Connor
Andrew Cogliano - Darren Helm - Nicolas Aube-Kubel

Devon Toews - Cale Makar
Jack Johnson - Josh Manson
Kurtis MacDermid - Erik Johnson

Note: We still haven’t received an update on the status of Artturi Lehkonen’s immigration status. We will keep a close eye and update you if we get word.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild shook up the fabric of the west at the trade deadline by acquiring Marc-Andre Fleury from the Chicago Blackhawks in a blockbuster deal. They also made a deal with the Avalanche that sent beloved Tyson Jost to the Wild in exchange for Nico Sturm. Tonight marks the first time Jost plays against the Avalanche, who drafted him 10th overall in 2016. He now dawns the number ten. Coincidence, I think not.

The Wild are looking to put their foot in the door as genuine contenders heading into the playoffs. They and the St. Louis Blues are battling for the only central division spot up for grabs. The number two spot.

Projected Wild lineup:

Kirill Kaprizov - Ryan Hartman - Mats Zuccarello
Kevin Fiala - Frederick Gaudreau - Matthew Boldy
Jordan Greenway - Joel Eriksson Ek - Marcus Foligno
Brandon Duhaime - Tyson Jost - Nicolas Deslauriers

DEFENDERS

Jacob Middleton - Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin - Matt Dumba
Alex Goligoski - Dmitry Kulikov

Fight Notice: Wild forward Nicolas Deslauriers and Avalanche Defender Kurtis MacDermid have grown accustomed to dropping the gloves every time they meet. A matchup that first appeared while MacDermid was a LA King and Deslauriers was an Anaheim Duck. The same heavyweight bout, inside different rivalry. Get your popcorn ready.

Goaltenders

The Wild are going to go with Cam Talbot tonight against the Avalanche. Talbot has been the starter for the Wild all season and is essentially the 1A now in Minny. He has been decent between the pipes with a 2.82 GAA and .910 SV%.

Colorado will start netminder Darcy Kuemper. The Avalanche will need Kuemper to be good against one of their most hated rivals in the Wild. They are a skilled squad that can put the puck in the net. Kuemper is currently outperforming his career average in both GAA (2.39) and SV% (.923) and looks to be honing in as of late.