Tonight, the Colorado Avalanche will face off with the nautically themed club that eliminated them from last year's playoffs, the Seattle Kraken. The Avalanche may be carrying thoughts of revenge, but the best way to do that is to improve upon their 2-0 start to the regular season. Can the Kraken continue their reign over the Avalanche, or are the Avalanche restocked and ready to set the record straight?
It's been a solid start for the Avalanche, who've defeated the LA Kings and San Jose Sharks this season. Oddly enough, it felt like the win over LA was more sure-handed, with Sharks keeper Mackenzie Blackwood stealing the show in a 51/52-save performance. Cale Makar scored on the 50th shot to force OT, and Rantanen scored a shootout goal, with Georgiev stopping all three shootout chances for San Jose. That's likely not the model victory, but in this league, you have to beat the teams you should beat, even when the goalie is standing on his head. The Avalanche achieved that.
Tonight's matchup should pose another solid test for the Colorado, which has seen contributions mostly from its established core thus far. Miles Wood and Ross Colton were excellent on the third line with Tomas Tatar against the Kings, but outside of that, we are still waiting to see scoring contributions from names like Johansen, Drouin, and or Tomas Tatar. Keep an eye on that tonight.
Jonathan Drouin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Valeri Nichushkin — Ryan Johansen — Artturi Lehkonen
Miles Wood — Ross Colton — Tomas Tatar
Andrew Cogliano — Fredrik Olofsson — Logan O’Connor
Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Bo Byram — Sam Girard
Jack Johnson — Josh Manson
Note: Sam Girard has been excellent to start the season and has jumped from the bottom pair to a grouping with Bo Byram. G has been throwing the body lately, sporting a surprisingly physical game.
The Seattle Kraken have not gotten off to a great start in 2023-24 and are still searching for their first regular-season win. They have been good on the penalty kill, ranked 1st in the NHL, coincidentally tied with the Colorado Avalanche. Both squads have killed 100% of penalties so far this season. Who will be the first to give in?
The Kraken have really struggled offensively, having only put two goals on the board in their three regular season contests thus far. Based on the last postseason, the Kraken might feel good about their chances, but they should proceed cautiously. The Avalanche team they play tonight is much deeper than the one they played in May.
Brandon Tanev blows a kiss to the Colorado crowd after his shorthanded goal. Classic Turbo. pic.twitter.com/CjtlwHD9lR— Emerald City Hockey (@EmeraldCityHky) April 21, 2023
In that playoff series, we saw some extracurriculars and even a Cale Makar suspension. Do I think there might be some lingering animosity? On the surface, guys will say they have moved on, but the game will paint a different picture. I expect a fight in this contest.
Jared McCann — Matthew Beniers — Jordan Eberle
Jaden Schwartz — Alexander Wennberg — Oliver Bjorkstrand
Eeli Tolvanen — Yanni Gourde — Andre Burakovsky
Tye Kartye — Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare — Kailer Yamamoto
Vince Dunn — Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak — William Borgen
Brian Dumoulin — Justin Schultz
It will again be Alexandar Georgiev in net who is looking for his third straight victory in as many games this season. I mentioned in a recent piece of work that Georgiev will likely get most, if not all, of the starts in the month of October. So far, that remains true, and it will definitely be the case on Thursday for the home opener as well. That should bode well for the Avalanche. If not for an unreplicable performance from counterpart in his last start, he’d of stolen the headlines, having shut the Sharks down in the shootout.
Former Avalanche Philipp Grubauer is the unconfirmed starter for tonight’s action contest. Grub has been decent in his first two appearances posting a 2.55 GAA and a .918 SV%. Kraken still plays a game that, when employed effectively, can insulate a netminder like Grubauer and elevate his play. We saw that last postseason. Will he return to that form against Colorado once again?