The Colorado Avalanche and New York Islanders will face off tonight at UBS Arena in Elmont, New York. The Avalanche are the clear favorite, having not lost yet in the 2023-24 season. The Islanders come in off a tough loss to the Sabres on the second night of a back-to-back scenario. Will Colorado continue their unbeaten streak, or will the Islanders end their run?
The Colorado Avalanche have come out of the gates swinging and are among the only three unbeaten NHL teams with Vegas and Boston. It hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows, but the Avs have found a way this season. Some good and some dire realities have risen to the surface over Colorado's first five games. All in all, one can't complain with a 5-0-0 start.
On Saturday, Logan O'Connor scored his third short-handed goal in as many games against the Hurricanes. Those three shorties rank him tied with Joe Sakic as Colorado's all-time leader in consecutive games with a tally of that sort. If he is to score short-handed in tonight's game, he will tie the NHL record of four SHG in four games set by Dave Ried of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1990. It's crazy that some Avalanche fans might want to see them on the kill for LOC to get a crack at it. Would you rather see the Avalanche go the whole game without committing a penalty? Or do you want to see LOC have a chance? That's a dilemma.
This Avalanche squad seems to fit the bill of a true competitor when firing on all cylinders. So far, offseason acquisitions have proven valuable additions, and the big guns like Makar, MacKinnon, and Rantanen have shown up. It feels like Val Nichushkin is back to his old form and ready to take the league by storm again.
Arturri Lehkonen — Nathan MacKinnon — Valeri Nichushkin
Tomas Tatar — Ryan Johansen — Mikko Rantanen
Miles Wood — Ross Colton — Jonathan Drouin
Andrew Cogliano — Fredrik Olofsson — Logan O’Connor
Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Bo Byram — Sam Girard
Jack Johnson — Josh Manson
Note: Jared Bednar hasn't gotten what he wanted from Drouin on that top group. However, it does feel like Bednar is experimenting a lot. Keep an eye on how he mixes and matches the top six forwards.
New York Islanders
The Islanders are somewhat of a difficult team to pin down. On the surface, they have a squad that should be competitive nightly; however, they might lack a scoring touch, with just seven goals in four games. A closer look reveals that New York has been held to one goal twice in those four games, so they may have issues of a similar consequence against Colorado and Alexandar Georgiev.
The Islanders did duke it out with their fellow big northeastern neighbors in the New Jersey Devils on Friday and then played Buffalo the next night. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt regarding their scoring woes. The real matchup I'm keying on is the one between the pipes.
Anders Lee — Bo Horvat — Mathew Barzal
Pierre Engvall — Brock Nelson — Kyle Palmieri
Simon Holmstrom — Jean-Gabriel Pageau — Oliver Wahlstrom
Matt Martin — Casey Cizikas — Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech — Noah Dobson
Alexander Romanov — Ryan Pulock
Samuel Bolduc — Sebastian Aho
Note: The Islanders have listed Scott Mayfield as day-to-day ahead of tonight's matchup.
Avalanche netminder Alexandar Georgiev was named the NHL's second star of the week on Monday, and rightfully so, as he's been the best player for Colorado to start this season. Georgiev has been excellent on the penalty kill, allowing the fewest goals while down a man. This is typically when goalies are leaned on the most, and Georgie has answered the call. Will he improve his unbeaten streak and eye-popping 1.57 GAA and .943 SV% against the New York team he didn't play for?
Alex DeBrincat (@DetroitRedWings), Alexandar Georgiev (@Avalanche) and Sam Reinhart (@FlaPanthers) named “Three Stars” for the week ending Oct. 22.#NHLStats: https://t.co/YMtpji5wmj pic.twitter.com/QI0l10JEPn— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) October 23, 2023
I always like seeing Semyon Varlamov in the net against the Avalanche because I have a ton of respect for Varly's game, especially at 35 years old. We will see Islanders starter Illya Sorokin in the net unless they decide to go with the always starting a goalie against their former team adage.
Let us know what you think of the matchup in the comments!