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Preview: Starting out East against the Maple Leafs

Colorado starts two long East-coast road trip with a visit to Toronto.

Colorado Avalanche v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

The Colorado Avalanche start a five-game road trip out East, the first of two in a matter of weeks. Saturday night, the puck drops against the Toronto Maple Leafs with what should be an epic showdown.

Despite nearly being delayed, the trip will look to start fast and on the right foot for Colorado. In a stretch of tough games, this is just yet another test to see how the Avs will fare in the second half of this season.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avs are coming off a great 3-0 win over the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Vegas Golden Knights. It was the second straight game we saw a 60-minute performance and the second straight win for the Avalanche.

There was more positive news with Gabriel Landeskog starting to skate after his knee surgery last May. But despite being in a normal blue jersey, no, he will not be joining the team anytime soon to play and still eyes a return for the playoffs.

Even without the captain, the Avalanche will still have to roll without Miles Wood who still is in Colorado sick with the flu and hopeful to join the team later on in the trip. Bowen Byram will still be out as well, and Artturi Lehkonen may return later in the trip too - but not tonight. But, Josh Manson will return but perhaps at the loss of Valeri Nichushkin who is sick. Can Colorado’s hard work earn a third straight win regardless of who is out there?

Projected Lines

Jonathan Drouin (27) - Nathan MacKinnon (29) - Mikko Rantanen (96)
Valeri Nichushkin (13) - Ross Colton (20) - Logan O’Connor (25)
Andrew Cogliano (11) - Ryan Johansen (12) - Joel Kiviranta (94)
Kurtis MacDermid (56) - Fredrik Olofsson (22) - Jason Polin (41)

Devon Toews (7) - Cale Makar (8)
Sam Girard (49) - Josh Manson (42)
Jack Johnson (3) Sam Malinski (70)

Note: If Valeri Nichushkin can’t go, expect Ben Meyers to slot into the team with someone from the bottom six moving up to play on the second line. This would end his waiver exemption by playing in his 60th career game.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto is coming back home after a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss at the hands of the New York Islanders. The disappointment comes in the form of blowing a 3-1 lead, which saw Noah Dobson record four assists to knock them off.

As has been typical the last few seasons out East, the competition is tough and fierce. Expectations continue to remain very high in Toronto, with the hopes they can take a first-round win from last season and excel once again with faces like Auston Matthews.

He has been stellar as always with his 48 points in 38 games. But ahead of him, William Nylander has been on a tear with 57 points in 39 games, earning him a new massive contract. Can the two connect and get away from the Avalanche to get back to winning ways?

Projected Lineup

Matthew Knies (23) - Auston Matthews (34) - Mitch Marner (16)
Tyler Bertuzzi (59) - John Tavares (91) - William Nylander (88)
Pontus Holmberg (29) - Max Domi (11) - Calle Jarnkrok (19)
Bobby McMann (74) - David Kampf (64) - Noah Gregor (18)

Morgan Reilly (44) - T.J. Brodie (78)
Simon Benoit (2) - Jake McCabe (22)
Mark Giordano (55) - Timothy Liljergen (37)

Goaltenders

With the recent dominance in the crease, it should be no surprise to see Alexandar Georgiev in net for the Avs. Meanwhile, goaltending for the Maple Leafs has been all over the place this season. With Matt Murray and Joseph Wall both on the IR and Ilya Samsonov struggling and flipping between the minors and majors, it should be Martin Jones in the crease.