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Preview: Avalanche visit Kraken

Force of nature meets legendary sea monster.

Colorado Avalanche v Seattle Kraken Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche will make a quick trip to Seattle for a showdown with the NHL’s newest franchise in the Kraken this evening. The Kraken have not found early success as an expansion team but have successfully exchanged some expansion picks for future draft selections. The Avalanche look to bounce back after a 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche lineup is hard to predict these days with the playoffs and home ice secured. Losing to the Capitals meant losing their fifteenth regulation loss with just six games remaining. Colorado has an excellent bounce-back opportunity against a struggling Seattle squad.

Colorado is tied for first in the NHL with the Florida Panthers in points, and with six-game left for both teams, the race for the President’s Trophy is on. Hockey twitter tells us that the President’s Trophy is cursed and that no one cares about winning the regular season. For the Avalanche, the focus is on the postseason, and with that, you want to end the regular season the right way to carry momentum into the playoffs.

Projected Lineup

Valeri Nichushkin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Artturi Lehkonen — Nazem Kadri — Andre Burakovsky
Alex Newhook — JT Compher — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Nico Sturm — Ben Meyers — Logan O’Connor

Bowen Byram — Cale Makar
Samuel Girard — Josh Manson
Kurtis MacDermid — Jack Johnson (Erik Johnson)

Note: Avalanche defender Devon Toews did not make the road trip and is still servicing a nagging injury likely sustained while blocking a shot against Winnepeg. Nazem Kadri did make the trip and will return tonight.

Seattle Kraken

The ship has sailed on a quick start for the Seattle Kraken franchise. Their roster now is a mere shadow of the expansion squad as they’ve begun to mortgage talent for picks. Seattle is dead set on establishing their prospect pool, hitting the draft lottery, and picking among the top three draft choices in 2022. Only the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes have amassed fewer points this season.

Projected Lineup

Ryan Donato — Mathew Beniers — Jordan Eberle
Jared McCann — Yanni Gourde — Joonas Donskoi
Victor Rask — Alexander Wennberg — Karson Kuhlman
Riley Sheahan — Morgan Geekie — Daniel Sprong

Vince Dunn — Adam Larsson
Haydn Fleury — Carson Soucy
Jamie Oleksiak — William Borgen

Goaltenders

Avalanche fans know the importance of healthy goaltending heading into the postseason, which should be the priority right now. We may see the Avalanche give starter Darcy Kuemper the night off with so few games remaining. If Pavel Francouz gets the nod, look for Frankie, our silly-sided savant, to steal the show.

Chris Driedger is likely to start for the Kraken against the blandest team in the league. If not Driedger, it will be former Avalanche Philipp Grubauer in the crease. Hopefully, the Avalanche fails to garner an emotional response from either netminder.