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Preview: Avs try to stay hot at home against Vegas

It’s a week of measuring-stick games, as the Avs test themselves against two of the league’s best.

Colorado Avalanche v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

Coming off perhaps their best game of the season, the Colorado Avalanche will look to keep things rolling against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights.

Last game out versus the Bruins was a raucous game for the Avs. With seemingly half of Boston buying tickets to the game, the Ball Arena atmosphere was the rowdiest it had been all season and the game on the ice matched it. Both teams played about as well as they could have expected, and a game where the margins were razor-thin was decided in the last round of the shootout.

If the Avs put forth that kind of effort every night, they should win the division and possibly the West (although the litany of cupcakes in the basement of the Pacific will make that difficult for any team from the much deeper Central). It will take that kind of hard-nosed defensively responsible game for the Avalanche to beat Vegas, who have cooled off quite a bit since their torrid start.

Projected Lineup

Jonathan Drouin (27) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)

Logan O’Connor (25) - Ross Colton (20) - Valeri Nichushkin (13)

Andrew Cogliano (11) - Ryan Johansen (12) - Joel Kiviranta (94)

Kurtis MacDermid (56) - Frederik Olofsson (22) - Jason Polin (41)

Devon Toews (7) - Cale Makar (8)

Sam Girard (49) - Jack Johnson (3)

Sam Malinski (70) - Caleb Jones (82)

Vegas Golden Knights

Vegas opened the season winning 11 of their first 12, looking every bit the juggernaut every defending Stanley Cup Champion fancies themselves to be. Regression hit them hard in November, and they scuffled their way through a .500 stretch into the middle of December, where the biggest struggles of the season began for them. Since beating Calgary in overtime on December 12th, Vegas has lost seven of their last 10 games, losing by multiple goals in every loss but one. They can however, talk themselves into being through the worst of this stretch, as they have won two of their last four and would undoubtedly feel like they have righted the ship should they win tonight in Denver.

Projected Lineup

Ivan Barbashev (49) — Jack Eichel (9) — Jonathan Marchessault (81)

Pavel Dorofeyev (16) — Chandler Stephenson (20) — Mark Stone (61)

Brett Howden (21) — Nicolas Roy (10) — Keegan Kolesar (55)

Paul Cotter (43) — Michael Amadio (22) — Giorgi Denisenko (54)

Alec Martinez (23) — Alex Pietrangelo (7)

Brayden McNabb (3) — Lukas Cormier (40)

Nicolas Hague (14) — Zach Whitecloud (2)

Goaltenders

It’s a big game so there’s no reason to expect anyone but Alexandar Georgiev to start between the pipes for the Avs. He’s been playing better as of late and Jared Bednar no doubt is trying to get him into a groove so he’ll be playing his best hockey going into the playoffs. For Vegas, they are expected to get #1 goalie Adin Hill back from injury tonight. They need him, as their harsh regression began a little over a week after he first got injured. Should Hill not be able to go, Vegas has been riding Logan Thompson in net in his absence and he would likely get the call.