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Open Thread: Colorado Avalanche vs. Winnipeg Jets (5:00 p.m.)

It’s a Colorado Avalanche gameday!

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Colorado Avalanche Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hockey night in North America, and the Colorado Avalanche is set to face the Winnipeg Jets at Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba. This matchup features two teams vying for the top dog in the Central Division standings. The Jets stole the opening game of the season series by a score of 4-2 on December 7. Will the Avalanche exact revenge, or will the Jets win the season series at home?

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche are riding a two-game winning streak and would love to extend that to three on the road. Erik Johnson’s return to Denver couldn’t have gone better for the Avalanche, with a great honoring of the defenseman and a commanding victory over the Sabres.

This game holds a bit more significance, with two crucial points up for grabs against the Jets, who sit two points behind the Avalanche in the standings with a game in hand. Nathan MacKinnon is still on a point streak that he can push to 14 games. He also just logged his 800th career point in his 11th season in the league. Pretty impressive!

Projected Lineup

Nathan MacKinnon — Valeri Nichushkin — Mikko Rantanen
Miles Wood — Ross Colton — Logan O’Connor
Jonathan Drouin — Ryan Johansen — Joel Kiviranta
Andrew Cogliano — Fredrick Olofsson — Ben Meyers

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

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets were dealt a heavy blow with an injury to one of their best forwards, Kyle Connor. Connor led the team in points before he went down with a knee injury after going knee-to-knee with Ryan Strome of the Anaheim Ducks. This hit gave me Matt Cooke flashbacks, and the Jets would announce his injured reserve status the following day.

Winnipeg is still capable without Connor, having big man Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers rounding out their top line. The Avalanche are all too familiar with injury woes. Can they take advantage of a short-staffed Jets team tonight?

Projected Lineup

Nikolaj Ehlers — Mark Scheifele — Gabriel Vilardi
Cole Prefetti — Vladislav Namestnikov — Alex Iafallo
Nino Niederreiter — Adam Lowry — Mason Appleton
Morgan Barron — David Gustafsson — Axel Jonsson-Fjallby

Josh Morrissey — Dylan Demelo
Brenden Dillon — Neal Pionk
Dylan Samberg — Nate Schmidt

Goaltenders

In another surprising move, Jared Bednar will go with Ivan Prosvetov again tonight in a critical game, leaving usual starter Alexandar Georgiev on the bench. It’s always hard to tell what’s going on behind the scenes with the Avalanche, as they are notoriously tight-lipped regarding inner dealings. That fact makes it hard to know if these consecutive starts for Ivan show an actual move in the depth chart or if Alexandar Georgiev is injured somehow. He’s been on the bench, so he seems good to go. If this is a promotion for Ivan Prosvetov, it could be a temporary solution while lighting a fire under Georgiev, who is undoubtedly the more capable goalie.

The Jets will once again go with Connor Hellebyuck between the pipes. He was a bright spot for Winnipeg in their first matchup with the Avalanche in Denver. Let’s see if he can repeat that performance on home ice.

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