After four straight wins, the Colorado Avalanche head into Mullett Arena to face an Arizona team on a little streak of their own with two excellent wins over Vegas and Tampa. The Avs just beat Tampa too, following convincing wins of their own over the Flames, Wild, and Canucks. Only one team can keep their streak alive!
The Avs look back on track of late, as the second line has found an offensive groove in support of the top line while the bottom six just keeps grinding their grind. Ryan Johansen in particular has stepped up at even strength, scoring the first two goals in the Tampa game to get the Avalanche out to a hot start.
Defensively, Colorado has tightened up its structural play of late despite a myriad of absences on the blue line - Sam Girard stepped away from the team to enter the Player Assistance Program, Josh Manson missed some games, and Cale Makar’s status for tonight was briefly in question as the team called up Sam Malinski following Makar’s early exit from yesterday’s practice. Manson and Makar are both expected to play.
The team's defense has been strong partly because Alexandar Georgiev has returned to his early season form, performing again like the top 10 goalie he was expected to be before the season. All of this has put Colorado back on top of the Central Division and in the driver’s seat of the Western Conference Cup contender conversation once again. It’s a good place to be.
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
Connor Ingram starred in the Yotes' two straight wins over recent cup winners Vegas and Tampa, standing on his head in net to shut out the Knights and give up just one to the Bolts. He’s likely to get the start tonight and see if he can complete the cup champ trifecta.
That’ll only be possible if Arizona’s forwards can find their way through the Avs defensive structure and fluster Georgiev. But, their top six hasn’t been able to do that against anyone consistently this season.
Ingram and depth scoring spearheaded Arizona’s recent wins, as the Coyotes tenacious bottom six could sustain offensive pressure and convert on the few chances they generated. That’s not exactly a recipe for long-term success - teams that don’t generate many chances don’t typically score enough to win consistently - but if their grind lines keep finding success and Clayton Keller or Logan Cooley get going they’ll be a tough out.
Clayton Keller — Logan Cooley — Nick Schmaltz
Matias Maccelli — Nick Bjugstad — Lawson Crouse
Michael Carcone — Alexander Kerfoot — Jason Zucker
Liam O’Brien — Travis Boyd — Josh Brown
J.J. Moser — Sean Durzi
Juuso Valimaki — Mathew Dumba
Troy Stecher — Michael Kesselring
Georgiev will get the start and most likely face Ingram as mentioned above.