The Colorado Avalanche’s three-game road trip ends tonight in Winnipeg against a mirror-like team in the Jets. The Avs though, have something the home standing Jets do not, Matt Duchene.
Out of the Avalanche lineup for nearly eight weeks, Duchene has been skating with the team for the past week in a non-contact sweater. Tonight, Duchene will be dressed and on the bench for the first time since December 29 when he tweaked his knee on a check he was trying deliver in a game against the Phoenix Coyotes.
The Avs are not only looking forward to Duchene’s return, but are also looking forward to coming back home to Denver. After tonight’s game the Avalanche will have spent a total of seven days in a row away from Pepsi Center.
Before Colorado can enjoy being back at home, they need to focus on tonight’s game against the Jets. On paper these two clubs are eerily identical. The Avs have 1 more win, but both clubs have the same amount of losses and points and only 0.7% separates their penalty killing percentage.
With those stats, tonight’s game proves to be very entertaining. With a hockey-rich environment in Winnipeg, the crowd will definitely become a factor in the game. The entire city has welcomed the return of professional hockey and has made Winnipeg a very inhospitable place to play.
The one thing that Colorado has on their side is the return of one of the club’s most dangerous scorer. With the elevated play of Gabriel Landeskog and the ever-consistent play of Milan Hejduk, the Avs are hoping that Duchene’s return will only garner more goals for the team.
Mark Olver looks to continue his hot-streak and prove that he deserves a permanent place on the roster for Colorado. Coming off a two-point performance the other night in Edmonton, Olver will hope to add a little more potency to an Avalanche offense that needs some more firepower.
If the Avs come out tonight like they did in Edmonton a few nights ago, they should have no problem flying out of Winnipeg with a win. Colorado kept their nose to the grindstone the other night and closed out the game early. When these two teams met last, the Avs were coming off of a long, hard fought road trip and played Winnipeg in the second half of a back-to-back series. Tonight the Avs are fresh, focused and are ready to shoot down the Jets.
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