It's been a tough road trip since the All-Star break, with the Colorado Avalanche losing all four contests while being outscored 16-6. Can the Avalanche get back on the good side with a win tonight over the Washington Capitals? These two teams met not too long ago in Colorado, and that time out, it was all Nathan MacKinnon and all Colorado Avalanche. Could we see another MacKtrick?
Confidence can be a flighty feeling in the NHL, especially amidst a losing streak, but I think this Avalanche squad has the fabric and foundation to rebound quickly. Hopefully, that starts tonight against a Capitals team that, on paper, isn't as good as the Avs and likely can't skate with them.
The lack of team success is an issue, but we have seen some individual performances that give credence to moves made or not made by GM Chris MacFarland and Joe Sakic. Sam Girard is on a tear right now, with points in nine of his last eleven appearances, and Jonathan Drouin has points in 14 of his previous 16 appearances. That's not too bad for a guy making just above the league minimum.
As mentioned, Nathan MacKinnon went against the Caps last time these two faced off. Keep an eye on the speedy and likely uber-frustrated Nathan MacKinnon tonight.
Jonathan Drouin — Nathan MacKinnon — Mikko Rantanen
Arturri Lehkonen — Ross Colton — Logan O'Connor
Miles Wood — Ryan Johansen — Zach Parise
Andrew Cogliano — Fredrik Olofsson — Joel Kiviranta
Devon Toews — Cale Makar
Sam Girard — Josh Manson
Jack Johnson — Bowen Byram
It's been a tough season for Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals, who currently sit in 6th place in the metro with at least an eight-point gap between them and any potential playoff team. They have won only one of their last eight contests and three of their last ten. On top of that, Ovechkin's pace and pursuit of Gretzky's all-time goals record has been grinding down to a halt, with him only scoring 13 goals this season so far. Ovi still needs 60 goals to catch the Great One.
Alex Ovechkin — Dylan Strome — T.J. Oshie
Aliaksei Protas — Connor McMichael — Anthony Mantha
Max Pacioretty — Michael Sgarbossa — Tom Wilson
Beck Malenstyn — Nic Dowd — Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Martin Fehervary — John Carlson
Rasmus Sandin — Nick Jensen
Joel Edmundson — Ethan Bear
I'd expect best on best tonight, with the Caps and Avs having two days since they last played. That means Alexandar Georgiev for Colorado and Darcy Kuemper for the Capitals. Keep an eye on who has the starters net in the morning skate. This could also be a good game for Justus Annunen to strut his stuff.