Despite losing Artturi Lehkonen to a broken finger and hand surgery, and playing without still-on-the-mend Gabe Landeskog, the up, down, and up Avalanche side has defied the odds and won four straight since their last match in the comforts of Ball Arena.
In doing so, they have stretched their point-earning streak to 5-0-2 in their last seven outings. With less than a month before the regular season comes to a hard close, the surging-again Avalanche rank third in the Central Division standings and are 39-22-6 for their season.
After being punished by the Los Angeles Kings at home, the Burgundy and Blue got much-needed points against the Arizona Coyotes, and again during a testy match and shootout with Toronto. They then went on to crush Montreal, and on Thursday, with both luck and a headstrong Joonas Johansson on their side, held off Ottawa in the final period of a close-call game in Canada’s capital city.
For Johansson, who was inserted to give Alexander Georgiev a much-needed respite, it was a timely victory. The goalminder made 32 saves in a 5-4 win over the pesky Senators.
Since the team’s 5-2 spanking by L.A. and very frank “we’ve got to want it more than we want it right now” declaration by head coach Jared Bednar after the loss, the Avs have responded accordingly. And they have done so despite still not being at full strength.
It is fair to say that the likes of Georgiev and Johansson, Evan Rodrigues and Lars Eller, as well as old reliable, Cale Makar, all have made a world of difference during this crucial road trip. Rodrigues praised Johansson’s effort after the Ottawa game:
And then there has been the steady play of Mikko Rantanen. With a goal and two assists against Ottawa, the veteran has earned 490 career points. In doing so, he takes sole possession of the ninth place in franchise history in career points, passing Alex Tanguay. Tanguay is currently an assistant coach for the Detroit Red Wings.
Projected Colorado Lineup:
Evan Rodrigues — Nathan MacKinnon — Valeri Nichushkin
Denis Malgin — J.T. Compher — Mikko Rantanen
Andrew Cogliano — Lars Eller — Logan O’Connor
Alex Galchenyuk — Alex Newhook — Matt Nieto
Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Samuel Girard — Bowen Byram
Jack Johnson — Brad Hunt
Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings will be well-rested for today’s afternoon match. They last played on Tuesday, losing to a bruising Nashville team, 2-1. Goaltender Ville Husso stopped 14 shots at the foot of his goal. Red Wings’ rising forward Alex Chiasson scored the only goal.
The Avs’ defensive unit will have their eyes on speedster Dylan Larkin. The Red Wings’ center remains the team leader in career points against the Avalanche with 11 (2g/9a) in 13 showdowns.
The depleted Red Wings have been calling up reservists to fill up their rank-and-file roster spots, youngster, Simon Edvinsson included.
According to a team news release, Edvinsson, who was recalled along with Austin Czarnik from the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins under emergency conditions on Friday, is expected to make his highly anticipated NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings today.
Edvinsson recorded five goals and 22 assists in 51 games with the Griffins this season.
“We’re on a run with Grand Rapids,” Edvinsson said. “I was just focused on that, to make the playoffs there, but to get called up was just awesome.” Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde admitted he’s eager to see what Edvinsson will bring to the lineup.