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Preview: Duchene, Predators in town for home finale

The Avalanche put a bow on their regular season at Ball Arena.

NHL: JAN 11 Avalanche at Predators Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NHL’s regular season is coming to an end this week, and as such, the Colorado Avalanche will be playing the Nashville Predators in their home finale. The Predators are playoff-bound and are looking to secure the first wild card slot. Colorado has their eyes on the playoff prize, having already secured western supremacy.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche looked like themselves in a victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Blues rode in on a point streak, but the Avalanche were able to impose their will in a hard-earned physical triumph. Look for more of the same this evening against another potential playoff foe. It’s all about the playoffs now.

It seems like the Avalanche is getting healthy at just the right time. We should see the return of Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen tonight. It’s been pretty clear that the Avalanche power play has missed Mikko’s presence and finishing touch.

Projected Lineup

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

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

Injuries: Gabriel Landeskog (OUT), Ryan Murray (OUT)

Nashville Predators

The Preds are battling the Dallas Stars for wild card positioning, knowing that whoever finishes last has to face Colorado in the first round of the playoffs. I’d expect that to inject plenty of emotion into tonight’s divisional showdown. Keep an eye on how the Predators match up with Colorado’s top-six forwards. That should be the thing to watch if the Avalanche and Predators meet in the first round.

Predator defenseman Roman Josi is among Norris Trophy finalists and could very well win the award over Cale Makar who has been lights out for Colorado. I don’t have to tell you who I think should win the award.

Projected Lineup:

Filip Forsberg — Mikael Granlund — Matt Duchene
Luke Kunin — Ryan Johansen — Philip Tomasino
Tanner Jeannot — Colton Sissons — Yakov Trenin
Nick Cousins — Michael McCarron — Mathieu Oliver

Roman Josi — Dante Fabbro
Mattias Ekholm — Alexandre Carrier
Mark Borowiecki — Matt Benning

Injuries: Jeremy Lauzon (OUT)

Goaltenders

We may see Darcy Kuemper’s last start of the regular season this evening. It makes sense to give him the extra night off tomorrow and start him on the front end of a back-to-back. Kuemper is ready for a deep playoff run but let’s see how he fairs against a potential playoff rival.

David Rittich should get the nod between the pipes for the Predators this evening. Rittich came over from the Toronto Maple Leafs and has eleven victories in fifteen appearances for the Predators as a backup this season.