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Preview: Nazem Kadri returns to Ball Arena as Avs look to douse Flames

The Avs aim to sweep another back-to-back on home ice.

NHL: JAN 18 Avalanche at Flames Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After a statement 5-1 win last night in the Central Division race against the Winnipeg Jets, the Colorado Avalanche are back in action at Ball Arena for what should be an emotional evening. Former Avalanche Center Nazem Kadri returns to Denver for the first time since winning a Stanley Cup with the Avs last summer.

Kadri, who signed a 7-year $49 million contract with the Flames on Aug. 18, silenced each and every one of his critics with his performance in the 2021-22 season and cemented himself into the hearts of all Avalanche fans with his playoff run. Emotions are likely to run high at the first commercial break but in a good way.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche figure to ice the same group they did yesterday evening, as Cale Makar will be shelved for at least one more game while in concussion protocol. For Makar, it’ll be his third consecutive game on the shelf, but the team hopes to implement the reigning Norris Trophy winner back into the lineup Monday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Alexandar Georgiev figures to start once again tonight, which would mark the second time this month Georgie takes on both halves of a back-to-back set. The organization conducted an internal goalie swap this morning, calling up Justus Annunen from the Colorado Eagles while sending Jonas Johansson down in his place. Annunen backstopped the Colorado Eagles to a 4-2 win over the Abbotsford Canucks last night, so expect Georgiev once again tonight.

Projected Lines

Artturi Lehkonen (62) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)
Evan Rodrigues (9) - J.T. Compher (37) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Matt Nieto (83) - Alex Newhook (18) - Denis Malgin (81)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Logan O’Connor (25)

Sam Girard (49) - Devon Toews (7)
Bowen Byram (4) - Josh Manson (42)
Andreas Englund (88) - Kurtis MacDermid (56)
Brad Hunt (17)

Alexandar Georgiev (40)
Justus Annunen (60)

Calgary Flames

The Flames come into Denver as one of the league’s biggest mysteries, as inconsistency has plagued the team in all facets of the game. Jacob Markstrom has reverted back to his 2020-21 season form, with backup Dan Vladar forcing the reigning Vezina Trophy finalist into a timeshare in the crease. Vladar handled both starts himself himself in the Flames recent back-to-back road set against the Coyotes and Golden Knights, splitting the set with a 6-3 win in Arizona, followed by a 4-3 Overtime loss in Vegas.

Additionally, South Beach newcomers Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar have struggled to emulate the success they had with the President's Trophy-winning Florida Panthers last season, with Huberdeau in particular struggling to maintain a point-per-game pace.

With a 4-3-3 record in their last 10 games, Calgary is fighting just to keep their heads above water. Sitting just outside the wild card spots, points against another team in the running would massively help them. With Vladar handling both games of the Flames recent back-to-back, expect Markstrom between the pipes for Calgary tonight.

Flames Projected Lines

Dillon Dube (29) - Elias Lindholm (28) - Tyler Toffoli (73)
Jakob Pelletier (49) - Nazem Kadri (91) - Jonathan Huberdeau (10)
Andrew Mangiapane (88) - Mikael Backlund (11) - Blake Coleman (20)
Milan Lucic (17) - Trevor Lewis (22) - Walker Duehr (71)

Noah Hanifin (55) - Rasmus Andersson (4)
MacKenzie Weegar (52) - Chris Tanev (8)
Nikita Zadorov (16) - Dennis Gilbert (48)

Markstrom (25)
Vladar (80)