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Open Thread: Colorado Avalanche vs. Vegas Golden Knights (7:00 p.m.)

It’s a Colorado Avalanche gameday!

Colorado Avalanche v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Tonight the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Golden Knights are set for a western conference heavyweight showdown at Ball Arena in Denver, CO. The Knights are 6-1-3 in their last ten contests after a shootout loss to the Dallas Stars this past weekend. Colorado is 7-1-2 in their previous ten, having just dominated the Calgary Flames 4-1.

Colorado Avalanche

All roads lead through Denver if any western team wants to make an authentic cup run. The Avalanche have made it abundantly clear over the last month of hockey. After a shaky start riddled with injuries and poor puck luck, the Avalanche find themselves just three points behind the Dallas Stars with two games in hand. Not only is it realistic for them to win the division, but I think they will likely win the West entirely. The Avalanche are five points behind the Golden Knights with two games in hand. That makes tonight’s fun all the more critical.

The Avalanche recently made some noteworthy trades by acquiring Keith Kinkaid from the Boston Bruins and Jack Johnson from the Chicago Blackhawks. The Kinkaid move indicates that Pavel Francouz’s recovery might take longer. If Frankie makes a comeback according to the original timeline (before the season’s end), It will be good to have three reliable keepers heading into the playoffs.

Jack Johnson is back with his old Stanley cup winning squad. His stint in Chicago was short-lived and didn’t feature much production, but that’s not really why you bring a guy like Johnson in. Some fans had come to like what they’ve seen from Andreas Englund, who was sent to Chicago in the exchange, but it’s pretty clear the Avalanche value pedigree over potential. They are both seventh defenders, so it’s not a big deal, and it’s good to have JJ back at the end of the day.

Projected Lineup:

Artturi Lehkonen — Nathan MacKinnon — Valeri Nichushkin
Evan Rodrigues — JT Compher — Mikko Rantanen
Andrew Cogliano — Alex Newhook — Logan O’Connor
Matthew Nieto —Ben Meyers — Denis Malgin

Devon Toews — Samuel Girard
Bowen Byram — Josh Manson
Jack Johnson — Brad Hunt

Note: Kurtis MacDermid wore a heavy right hand in a tilt with Milan Lucic against the Calgary Flames. Ben Meyers and Jonas Johansson were recalled.

Vegas Golden Knights Projected Lines:

Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Mike Amadio
Will Carrier — Chandler Stephenson — Phill Kessel
Paul Cotter — Brett Howden — Keegan Kolesar

Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud

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