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Open Thread: Colorado Avalanche vs. Winnipeg Jets (6:00 p.m.)

It’s a Colorado Avalanche game day!

Colorado Avalanche v Winnipeg Jets Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images

The Winnipeg Jets are in Denver, CO, to face the Colorado Avalanche for the final regular season home game of 2022-23. The Avalanche beat the Jets the last time these two met back in February. The Avalanche have plenty to play for, with a third consecutive division title in reach, whereas the Jets will play for professional pride as their playoff position is settled.

Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL for the last three months of this regular season. They are also set to welcome the return of some vital contributors. Artturi Lekhonen is slated to make a possible return tonight after injuring his hand about a month ago. That is precisely four calendar weeks from his injury, and we were told 4-6 weeks initially, so good on Lehky for getting back quickly. Let’s hope he afforded himself enough time to heal completely.

According to Jared Bednar, Cale Makar and Josh Manson are also “close” to returning. I don’t expect either tonight, but that could be a possibility in Nashville. Both should be good to go for Game 1.

Projected Lineup:

Valeri Nichushkin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Evan Rodrigues — J.T. Compher — Artturi Lehkonen
Denis Malgin — Lars Eller — Ben Meyers
Matt Nieto — Alex Newhook — Logan O’Connor

Samuel Girard — Devon Toews
Jack Johnson — Bowen Byram
Kurtis MacDermid — Erik Johnson

Note: Cale Makar is listed as day-to-day and took a “planned day off” against the Oilers. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Andrew Cogliano take the night off after toe-picking and crashing into the boards against Edmonton.

Winnipeg Jets

The Winnipeg Jets come to Denver after an emotionally and physically grueling victory over the Minnesota Wild. The main story from that game came late when Nikolaj Ehlers took an open-ice hit from Ryan Hartman that was called interference and incited a scrum and a fiery exchange between each side’s head coach. The hit wasn’t deemed clean by NHL Player Safety, who handed down a one-game suspension to Hartman.

The Jets secured a playoff birth with their victory over the Wild, and it’s looking like they will face the Oilers or Golden Knights in the first round. With their position essentially determined and players on the mend, I wouldn’t be shocked to see a lineup that doesn’t feature critical players. Most notably and likely being Nikolaj Ehlers. The Jets have been all hands on deck for the last month or so, needing to make a solid push to have ended up in the playoffs.

Projected Lineup:

Kyle Connor — Pierre-Luc Dubois — Mark Scheifele
Nikolaj Ehlers — Adam Lowry — Blake Wheeler
Nino Neiderreiter — Adam Lowry — Mason Appleton
Morgan Barron — Kevin Stenlund — Saku Maenalanen

Josh Morrissey — Dylan Demelo
Brenden Dillon — Neal Pionk
Dylan Samberg — Nate Schmidt

Note: It isn’t clear who will be subbed, but the Jets should see three or four players inserted that haven’t played in quite some time.


Alexandar Georgiev was once again arguably Colorado’s best player in their 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers. With the division title in sight, I’d expect the Avs to go with their best keeper with Georgiev in the net. If not, we will see Pavel Francouz, who has only played one game since his return. Frankie will have to play tonight or tomorrow either way.

Connor Helybuck has seen 16 straight starts in the Jets’ effort to secure a playoff birth via the eighth wild-card spot. It’s safe to say he’s earned a night off. David Rittich will get the nod if that ends up being the case.

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