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Preview: Avalanche look to keep point streak alive against Ducks

Coming off an OT loss against Arizona, the Avs can right the ship against one of the NHL’s worst teams.

Anaheim Ducks v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a disappointing overtime loss at the frisky Arizona Coyotes, and they will have an opportunity to right the ship against a team that frankly can’t beat anyone right now. The Anaheim Ducks were expected to be one of the NHL’s poorer teams coming into a clear rebuilding season, but they are mired in a stretch that is disappointing even by their modest standards for this year.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs didn’t play particularly poorly against the Coyotes on Thursday night, but they didn’t play particularly well either. After winning the Corsi and expected goals battle in the first period and taking a 1-0 lead into the break, the Avs seemed to sit back and the Coyotes took the game to them, accounting for 85% of expected goals in the second period and 61% in the third. The game had a sleepy feel to it - as many early-season NHL games do - and it should be interesting to see what kind of effort the Avalanche put forth against a team that they frankly have no business losing to right now.

The last time the Avalanche played the Ducks, they annihilated them in a game that helped end a poor stretch of play for Colorado. They were two games removed from the 8-2 embarrassment against the Blues where Jared Bednar said they quit, and they took their frustrations out on an overmatched Ducks team to replicate the beatdown the Blues put down on them, also winning 8-2. The Avalanche have captured points in six of seven games since that meeting, and they will look to make it seven of eight as they are the third heaviest favorite in the NHL today according to the experts in the desert.

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

Anaheim Ducks

The last time these two teams met, the Ducks were 9-6 and looking like their rebuild may be ahead of schedule. Fast-forward a few weeks and that bubble as popped as they come into tonight’s game at 9-14. The loss to the Avs kicked off an eight-game losing streak where the Ducks have been outscored 38-16, scoring more than two goals in just two of those contests. Their winning record going into that first Avs game was a bit of a mirage, as a third of their wins have come in overtime, and they have experienced a brutal mean reversion since.

That said, a big reason they are mired in a losing streak is injuries, as their best player Trevor Zegras went on injured reserve on November 10, and another one of their top defensemen, Jamie Drysdale, has been out since late October. All that said, the Avs cannot sleepwalk through this game and expect to win easily. The Ducks are coming off a game that could conceivably be used as a springboard to end this losing streak.

They scored four goals in their last game against Washington for the first time since November 12, as their comeback fell just short. The Avalanche likely will not win 8-2, and they will have to match Anaheim’s desperation, lest they be upset by a team who has proven capable of beating some of the league’s best this year like Carolina, Boston, Pittsburgh, and Vegas.

Projected Lineup

Frank Vatrano — Mason McTavish — Ryan Strome
Alex Killorn — Leo Carlsson — Troy Terry
Max Jones — Adam Henrique — Jakob Silfverberg
Brock McGinn — Sam Carrick — Brett Leason

Cam Fowler — Tristan Luneau
Jackson LaCombe — Radko Gudas
Pavel Mintyukov — Ilya Lyubushkin

Goaltenders

Tonight is the first half of a back-to-back in California for the Avs, so I would expect Jared Bednar to give Ivan Prosvetov the start in net while he saves Alexandar Georgiev for tomorrow night against the Kings who currently sport the second-best goal differential in the Western Conference (behind Vancouver).

The Ducks are two nights removed from their last game and their next game isn’t for another three days (in Colorado), so unless Anaheim coach Greg Cronin wants to get his backup Lukas Dostal some work, I would expect John Gibson to be in net tonight and likely in Denver on Tuesday night as well.