The last time Colorado played Vancouver, the Canucks came into Denver and snapped a three-game Avalanche win streak with a 4-3 victory. Tonight, the Avs will look to flip the script and end their four-game losing streak with a road win of their own.
They may have to do so without much scoring depth, however, as Evan Rodrigues is uncertain to play despite traveling with the team on their two-game road trip in Western Canada. Valeri Nichushkin was slated to travel with the team but stayed behind.
Four games of brutal mistakes and ugly turnovers can fade in the rearview mirror if Colorado can get back to consistent hockey against the Canucks. Fortunately, Vancouver is also playing rather poorly of late, so this is a prime opportunity to leave those horrible games in the dust.
With or without Rodrigues and Nichushkin, Avs's big guns in Nathan Mackinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Cale Makar will look to get themselves going early. Particularly Makar, who has struggled to hit the net consistently for several weeks now.
Forward depth will continue to be a concern until everyone gets healthy, though Darren Helm’s recent return should bring some stability to at least the third line with Andrew Cogliano and Logan O’Connor. The second and fourth lines are in flux, as they have been all season, but Martin Kaut impressed in limited minutes last game, and the Alex Newhook - J.T. Compher - Dennis Malgin grouping has been creating havoc on the forecheck since they started playing together. If they can turn that effort into secondary scoring, the Avs should be able to win this game.
Artturi Lehkonen (62) — Nathan MacKinnon (29) — Mikko Rantanen (96)
Alex Newhook (18) — J.T. Compher (37) — Dennis Malgin (81)
Andrew Cogliano (11) — Darren Helm (43) — Logan O’Connor (25)
Kurtis MacDermid (56) — Ben Meyers (59) — Martin Kaut (61)
Devon Toews (7) — Cale Makar (8)
Samuel Girard (49) — Erik Johnson (6)
Andreas Englund (88) — Brad Hunt (17)
The Canucks are also looking to snap a losing streak, having dropped three straight to the Jets, Flames, and Islanders. Their struggles are well documented in national media, as they have continued to fail to meet the unreasonable expectations set by ownership.
Sometimes, a team just needs to rebuild.
Unfortunately for Canucks fans, ownership has no interest in the long view so they are stuck in the mushy middle of the league yet again. They have dangerous pieces in Elias Petterson, Bo Horvat, and Quinn Hughes, but not enough depth beyond them to really contend for anything.
No offense to Sheldon Dries, a solid former Av, and presumably good guy, but when he’s your third-line center your bottom six is definitely bad.
The defense looks decent on paper, but Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Tyler Meyers are not who their reputations say they are anymore - they’re cooked - and Travis Dermott and Luke Schenn are exactly who their reputations say they are - depth defensemen.
Fully healthy the Canucks look about as deep as the injured version of the Avs though, so this game is no sure thing.
Andrei Kuzmenko (96) - Elias Pettersson (40) - J.T. Miller (9)
Ilya Mikheyev (65) - Bo Horvat (53) - Brock Boeser (6)
Conor Garland (8) - Sheldon Dries (51) - Will Lockwood (58)
Dakota Joshua (81) - Jack Studnicka (18) - Curtis Lazar (20)
Quinn Hughes (43)- Ethan Bear (74)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23) - Tyler Myers (57)
Travis Dermott (24) - Luke Schenn (2)
Pavel Francouz resumed skating and made the trip, but Alexandar Georgiev will likely continue to start. Thatcher Demko is out as well for Vancouver, and former Av Spencer Martin has been decent filling in for him. He or possibly Collin Delia will be in the Canucks net.