The Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings will provide a holiday matinee for fans celebrating Martin Luther King Day in America today at Ball Arena in Denver, CO. These teams meet just two times a year since a conference realignment that put the flames out on one of sports greatest rivalries. The times are a-changin’, but seeing the colors of these two teams on the ice can and will induce a wave of bloody and brutal nostalgia. Memories that intertwine with the bittersweetness of former glory.
As of late, the Avalanche have fallen down the hill grasping for a semblance of success to hold to. Thankfully in their last contest, the saying was true, there is ‘gold in them hills.’ The success they found in a 7-0 route of the visiting Ottawa Senators should be plenty to spur on a good streak from an Avalanche team that seems to be getting healthy at the right time.
Speaking of getting healthy, it looks like Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin may return to action against the Red Wings. He will be the latest crash of the wave of returning Avs, something fans and coaches have patiently waited for. If he returns today, I’m not sure if I expect him to slot back into the top 6 immediately. We will see.
Artturi Lehkonen — Nathan MacKinnon — Evan Rodrigues
Alex Newhook — J.T. Compher — Mikko Rantanen
Andrew Cogliano — Logan O’Connor — Valeri Nichushkin
Andreas Englund — Ben Meyers — Anton Blidh
Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Samuel Girard — Erik Johnson
Kurtis MacDermid — Brad Hunt
Note: The Colorado Avalanche re-assigned Martin Kaut and Sampo Ranta to the Colorado Eagles. Likely to make room for Nichushkin’s return.
Anton Blidh is coming up to the #Avs today. Kaut and Ranta were sent down after last game.— Peter Baugh (@Peter_Baugh) January 16, 2023
DETROIT RED WINGS
The Red Wings look much like the Colorado Avalanche did about five years ago. They have some promising young talent in Mo Seider and company, while Dylan Larkin rounds out their core. Steve Yzerman has begun the rebuild, and the future is bright. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Red Wings are in contention again in a few years. They aren’t there yet, and Colorado’s talent should be enough to beat this Detroit club.
Although hockey and this matchup aren’t the same as they were when this rivalry was in a full-fledged rampage, there is one Red Wing that tends to act up against the Avalanche. Keep an eye on Tyler Bertuzzi and Andreas Englund for extracurricular activities.
Robby Fabbri — Dylan Larkin — Lucas Raymond
Michael Rasmussen — Andrew Copp — Jonatan Berggren
Tyler Bertuzzi — Pius Suter — David Perron
Dominik Kubalik — Joe Veleno — Oskar Sundqvist
Jake Walman — Moritz Seider
Ben Chiarot — Filip Hronek
Olli Maatta — Jordan Oesterle
Alexander Georgiev is the unconfirmed starter tonight, but perhaps the Avalanche should ride the hot hand and put Pavel Francouz back in the net after his shutout performance. Frankie looks confident, and maybe an extended spell is what Georgiev needs to get back to his early-season form.
Ville Husso is the likely starter for the Detroit Red Wings. The Avalanche are all too familiar with Husso after their second-round matchup last season while he wore a St Louis Blues sweater. In truth, Husso was good against the Avalanche when the stakes were high. Can he maintain that with a new club in front of him?