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Open Thread: Colorado Avalanche vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (7:00 p.m.)

It’s a Colorado Avalanche gameday!

Colorado Avalanche v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Mark LoMoglio/NHLI via Getty Images

It seems like it was only yesterday that the Colorado Avalanche defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final, but time has a habit of continuing to march on despite our desire to live in the glory of the past, and while both teams have still retained their cores from that series, the peripheral players around them have changed quite a bit in just two years.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs have righted the ship a bit after a shaky stretch of play and a crushing last-second loss in between their recent turn-around. After what was quite possibly the worst game the Avalanche have played since the 48-point season against St. Louis on November 11th, the Avs were through a stretch of seven games where they were 2-5 and were outscored 31-15. Avs fans were getting worried as Jared Bednar used words like “quit” to describe his team.

All Colorado has done since is win six out of seven while outscoring their opponents 33-15, quieting the doubters who arose after the disastrous St. Louis game. The third and fourth lines look great, newcomers Ryan Johansen and Jonathan Drouin look more comfortable by the day and are finding the scoresheet more often lately, and the 2023-2024 Avalanche look like they are beginning to establish an identity. This has been a season of wild swings so far, as the Avs won their first six before the 2-5 stretch, so consistency is still something this squad has to establish, and playing the league’s most consistent team over this past decade is a good test to see where they are truly at right now.

Projected Lineup

Valeri Nichushkin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen

Jonathan Drouin — Ryan Johansen — Tomas Tatar

Miles Wood — Ross Colton — Logan O’Connor

Andrew Cogliano — Fredrik Olofsson — Joel Kiviranta

Devon Toews — Cale Makar

Bo Byram — Josh Manson

Jack Johnson — Caleb Jones

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