Tonight, the Colorado Avalanche travel to Ohio to take on the worst team in the National Hockey League, the Columbus Blue Jackets. Tonight’s “trap” game is a dangerous one for the Avs because it is a game that is on the front-end of a back-to-back road series that has a ton of playoff implications attached to it.
With Colorado rolling into Columbus, tonight’s game should be fairly easy for the Avs. These two clubs met for the first time back in the opening week of the season and Colorado came away with a 3-2 victory from that outing. Tonight’s game has many more developed story lines attached to it.
The Blue Jackets are sitting dead in the water and are looking to play the role of spoiler in order to salvage their dismal season. With constant talk swirling around their camp about the departure of their Captain Rick Nash, Columbus is a team that is playing more for pride than for wins.
Colorado on the other hand is chasing a playoff spot that is still in their sights. With a huge victory against the Kings on Wednesday, Colorado is finally seeing play from guys they had hoped to see earlier in the season.
One of those guys is goalie Semyon Varlamov. Varly was slated to be the number one goalie when the season began, but has yet to keep that spot with very sporadic play. Since Colorado’s other net minder, J.S. Giguere, went down with a lower body injury in Vancouver on February 15, Varly has posted a .925 save percentage since then and has looked like the goalie Colorado spent a first and second round pick on.
With Colorado trying to hit full stride going into the stretch, tonight’s game will be an interesting one. Too many times this season Colorado has played poorly against teams with losing records. With Columbus toting the league’s worst record, Colorado better not play to their level. Instead the Avalanche need to carry the momentum over from Wednesday night’s shellacking of the Kings and keep their foot on the throttle.
The Avs also better not be looking too far into the future and overlook tonight’s game. Tomorrow the Avalanche go to their arch rival’s arena to duel with the Red Wings. Granted, the Wings-Avs series has been lackluster compared to the meetings in the 90’s, but Detroit still is a “four-letter” word in the Pepsi Center.
Bottom-line is this; the Avalanche need to focus and take care of the Blue Jackets tonight. Regardless of win-loss records, the Avs need to start the game with the same intensity they did the other night in Denver. I would personally love to see Downie on the ice again to start the game, just to set the tone for the Avalanche. It should be an enjoyable game tonight for Avs fans as there should be plenty of offensive firepower and physical play as the club takes the ice in Columbus tonight.
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