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Open Thread: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild (8:00 p.m.)

It’s Colorado Avalanche game day!

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche are set for a monumental matchup to determine the top dog in the Central Division tonight at Ball Arena in Denver, CO. Can Colorado reclaim their divisional throne? Or will the Wild send the champs a message? The Avalanche have not lost to the Wild this season and won the last showdown 3-2.

Colorado Avalanche

Colorado has their best look yet at taking first place in the Central with a victory this evening. Ball Arena should be roaring as much as it has since last year’s playoff run. This is what it’s all about late in the regular season. Two outstanding teams vying for divisional supremacy with few games left to do so. Can’t we bust out the pompoms early?

The Avalanche could secure a season sweep of the Wild tonight, something Colorado hasn’t achieved since the 2017-2018 season. All signs point to this being a fast-paced and high-octane matchup likely to be full of momentum swings. Hopefully, the Avalanche can fall back on their experience and roll with the emotional pendulum that comes with a playoff atmosphere. That’s what we will get tonight. Regarding my headline, I’ll let Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar lay it out for you!

Projected Lineup:

Valeri Nichushkin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Alex Newhook — J.T. Compher — Evan Rodrigues
Denis Malgin — Lars Eller — Matt Nieto
Andrew Cogliano — Darren Helm — Logan O’Connor

Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Samuel Girard — Bowen Byram
Jack Johnson — Erik Johnson

Alexandar Georgiev

Minnesota Wild

Minny is a well-rounded club and not one carried by elite performances from Karill Kaprisov, who has been out for some time. They are 7-1-2 in their last ten games and have gotten excellent goalkeeping as of late. Marc Andre Fleury has found the fountain of youth this season, winning eight of his last ten starts, but that feels unsustainable. Filip Gustavsson has also been good, winning six of his last ten starts. If the Wild steal games in the playoffs on the back of their netminding, they may prove a real threat in the west.

Watch on young Matt Boldy, who scored his first career hat trick against the Seattle Kraken in the Wilds’ last contest. He’s logged an assist against the Avalanche in each of their previous two meetings and is the player with which Bowen Byram dropped the mitts.

Projected Lineup:

Marcus Foligno — Ryan Hartman — Mats Zuccarello
Marcus Johansson — Joel Eriksson Ek — Matthew Boldy
Brandon Duhaime — Frederick Gaudreau — Oskar Sundqvist
Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Ryan Reaves

Jacob Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Mathew Dumba
Jon Merrill — Alex Goligoski

Filip Gustavsson

Note: The Wild will be without their most dynamic performer, Kirill Kaprizov, who has been out since March 8 with a lower-body injury.

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