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Preview: Division Rivalry Night with Blues

Colorado looks to end the four game slide with a victory over the St. Louis Blues.

St Louis Blues v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Tonight the Colorado Avalanche welcome their division rival, the St. Louis Blues, to Ball Arena in Denver, CO, for an evening contest. The Blues are vying for home-ice advantage and have been one of the league’s hottest teams late in the year. Colorado is looking to rebound after losing four straight games.

Colorado Avalanche

I don’t think there is reason to be all that concerned with how the Avalanche have played during their four-game slide. Being without your top scorer, your captain, and your top D man certainly has an impact. Marc Moser put it best on Altitude Sports Radio when he said, “It’s hard to manufacture emotion” when you’ve locked up the west and division title.

More on that here: Avalanche losing but no need to worry

Tonight’s game should have a different tone since the Avalanche and Blues will potentially meet in the second round of the playoffs. Anytime a division rival comes into your barn, you have to bring your best stuff. Perhaps new looks will help that out.

Projected Lineup:

Artturi Lehknonen — Nathan MacKinnon — Valeri Nichushkin
JT Compher — Nazem Kadri — Andre Burakovsky
Alex Newhook — Nico Sturm — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Andrew Cogliano — Darren Helm — Logan O’Connor

Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Samuel Girard — Josh Manson
Bowen Byram — Erik Johnson

Note: Devon Toews will return to the lineup tonight as he was spotted at morning skate today. Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen skated before morning skate but are still out until Game 1 and Thursday respectively.

St. Louis Blues

I’m sure former Ryan O’Reilly will look to exact some revenge after being swept by the Avalanche in last year’s first round. O’Reilly provided the Avalanche with some bulletin board material before the series, and hockey Twitter wasted no time dunking on the guy once the series was over.

St. Louis will be a dangerous team come playoff time. They are good on the power play and penalty kill, ranking second and fourth in the league percentage-wise. The Blues have eight different twenty-goal scorers on their roster this season and are getting hot at the right time.

Projected Lineup:

Pavel Buchnevich — Robert Thomas — Vladimir Tarasenko
Brandon Saad — Ryan O’Reilly — David Perron
Ivan Barbashev — Tyler Bozak — Jordan Kyrou
Alexei Toropchecnko — Logan Brown — Nathan Walker

Marco Scandella — Colton Parayko
Nick Leddy — Justin Faulk
Niko Mikkola — Robert Bortuzzo

Injuries: Brayden Schenn (DTD), Mackenzie Maceachern (DTD), Torey Krug (DTD).

Goaltenders

It will be Darcy Kuemper between the pipes for Colorado this evening. Kuemps hasn’t had a lot of defensive support to fall back on and has been the victim of some deflection goals, and I don’t think his last couple of starts indicate how well he has been playing.

For the Blues, it will likely be Ville Husso in the net. Husso has been a pleasant surprise for the Blues as netminder Jordan Bennington hasn’t quite been himself this season. St. Louis’ playoff success will rely heavily on Husso’s performance.