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Open Thread: Colorado Avalanche vs. Los Angeles Kings (8:00 p.m.)

It’s a Colorado Avalanche gameday!

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NHL: Los Angeles Kings at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings are all set for their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena in downtown LA. The two teams meet for the 166th time, with the Avalanche winning 81 of said matchups. Will the Avalanche start their season with their 82nd victory over the Kings, or can the Kings give their home crowd what they want on opening night?

Colorado Avalanche

This season’s Colorado Avalanche team is set and ready to go. We have a resolution regarding how the roster has settled, and it looks like if all goes to plan, the Avs might once again sport one of the league’s best and deepest rosters. Whether that’s the case or not will come down to the performance and integration of more than a few fresh faces.

We have yet to see just how Ryan Johansen, Thomas Tatar, Ross Colton, Mile Wood, Jonathan Drouin, and Fredrik Oloffson will fit in with the culture and play style of this year’s core group. That said, coming in with a clean bill of health (outside of Gabe Landeskog) should bode exceptionally well for a team with some of the league’s best talent in their top 6 and top defensive grouping.

Cale Makar, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Valeri Nichushkin, Artturi Lehkonen, and Devon Toews hold this core group and the rest of the squad to a very high standard. We, as fans, appreciate that, and it should show up in terms of the results. As head coach Jared Bednar said in this speech, the Avalanche are still hungry for more!

Projected Lineup:

Jonathan Drouin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin — Ryan Johansen — Artturi Lehkonen
Miles Wood — Ross Colton — Tomas Tatar
Andrew Cogliano — Fredrik Oloffson — Logan O’Connor

Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Bo Byram — Josh Manson
Sam Girard — Jack Johnson

Note: Cale Makar and Josh Manson have been nursing injuries, and we should keep an eye on their status heading into this matchup. Also, Ryan Tufte earned a spot on the opening night roster, but I’m not sure we will see him on the ice.

Los Angeles Kings

The Kings have done an excellent job to improve over the past few seasons and look to make a real push in the playoffs this year. They still have Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe and have added skill like Quinton Byfield and Pierre Luc Dubios to the lineup as well.

On this week’s Mile High Hockey Lab episode, Ezra Parter asked me if I was a “PLD believer.” My response is yes, I am, and with that, I think this LA team is one to be reconned with this season—potentially a playoff opponent of Colorado’s in the future.

I will say the Kings haven’t entirely answered questions on the net. Hopefully, the Avalanche will be able to exploit that with their speed and shooting talent.

Projected Lineup:

Quinton Byfield — Anze Kopitar — Adrian Kempe
Kevin Fiala — Pierre-Luc Dubois — Alex Lafierriere
Trevor Moore — Phillip Danault — Trevor Lewis
Carl Grundstrom — Blake Lizotte

Mikey Anderson — Drew Doughty
Vladislav Gavrikov — Matt Roy
Tobias Bjornfot — Jordan Spence

Goaltenders

It will be Alexandar Georgiev in the net for the Colorado Avalanche. He is beginning his second entire season as a true NHL starter, and after a 40-win season last year, expectations are high. I don’t think it’s out of the question for Georgie to have a Vezina-caliber season backing one of the league’s best defensive units.

The Kings will go with Cam Talbot between the pipes, but that is yet to be confirmed truly. We will see which minder leaves the morning skate first, indicating who will get the nod. All signs point to 36-year-old Talbot, who has played for seven clubs in his 12-year career.

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