Avalanche Host the Islanders


More from Mile High Sticking

Some Islanders are coming to Haka in the Pepsi Center. The Colorado Avalanche are set to face a surprisingly revitalized New York Islanders team in the Can. Last season, the two teams split their two-game series, each winning on the road. Needless to say, let’s hope that stops here.

The game starts at 7:00 MDT, and is being broadcast on Altitude TV.


Both the Avalanche and the Islanders are coming off of a loss at home. The Avs, of course, faced the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night. They took it all the way to the shootout but ended up losing 3-2. Colorado made a lot of mistakes during that game. However, head coach Patrick Roy is not worried:

"“And I think that makes us a better team right now. There’s nothing wrong with going through adversity right now and learning how to win those one-goal games. I think it’s part of the process, to be honest with you.”"

The Islanders lost to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. Despite the loss, the Islanders are on a hot streak. Coming into tonight’s game, they have 35 goals, which ties the Sharks for the lead in the league. Doesn’t it feel like that should be the Avs? Unfortunately, Colorado only has 22 goals coming into the game.

Keys to the Game

Line Combinations

Coach Roy set the Avs Nation aflutter when he announced the lineup for the evening. The Avalanche had recalled forward Dennis Everberg from Lake Erie, so we were expecting a change. However, the announcement that veteran forward Daniel Briere was a healthy scratch was met with skepticism, to put it mildly. Briere is, after all, the only Avalanche player to have recorded a game winning goal this season. Avs fans were also dismayed to hear the defenseman Zach Redmond was getting scratched in favor of Nate Guenin.

Roy didn’t end there. He also rearranged his lines:

Gabriel Landeskog-Matt Duchene-Ryan O’Reilly

Jamie McGinn-Nate McKinnon-Jarome Iginla

Alex Tanguay-John Mitchell-Dennis Everberg

Cody McLeod-Marc-Andre Cliche-Max Talbot

While it’s obvious that coach Roy wants to see more scoring, it’s confusing why he broke apart the most successful like of Tanguay-Duchene-Iginla. However, the above combinations do give him his desired formula of speed, grit and skill. (Well, that get’s stretched in F-4, but holds pretty well in the top-9.)

Islanders Road Trip

The game at Pepsi Center marks the first of a five-game road trip for the Islanders. The team comes into this trip with a 6-3-0 record.

Avalanche Home Stand

The game against New York marks the second of a series of home games for the Avs during which they play five of six games in Pepsi Center. Last season the Avs were dead even in their home and away record. This season their win record is dead even between the two. Unfortunately that just means they won one on the road and one at home.

Avalanche Game Management

The Avalanche have a goalie who’s performing miracles. They have skaters who can score in every way possible. They have defense that can pinch in or shut down the opponent. They have a power play and a penalty kill performing at optimum level. They have grit.

Unfortunately, they never seem to have all of these elements on the same night.

Coach Roy chalked it up to a problem with game management. He stated that, because the Avs are struggling to score goals, they’re mismanaging games. Players are pinching in at the wrong time. The defense is joining the rush at the wrong time, leaving the Avs zone open to attack. Avs players are losing pucks at the wrong time. He added:

"“Obviously if you score four or five goals, those little mistakes, you don’t see them as much. But when you’re not scoring, and you have to win the 2-1 game… Last season we won some one-goal games, and that brought our confidence.”"

The Avs need a few more of those one-goal games to go their way to bring confidence, though a blowout like the one against the Vancouver Canucks works, too.

Whos Hot, Who’s Not


Islander center John Tavares is tied with teammate Brock Nelson for points with four goals and eight assists. Nelson has six goals and six assists. For the Avs scorers, Jarome Iginla, Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie each have seven points. Forwards Alex Tanguay and Gabriel Landeskog each have four goals.

Semyon Varlamov was the man of the hour (or three) in the game against the San Jose Sharks. He recorded 49 saves of 51 shots faced. No question he was the best Colorado player Tuesday night. As coach Roy put it, “Varly is allowed to steal games for us.” He came close, that’s for sure.


Colorado forward Max Talbot continues to see ice time despite the fact he doesn’t have a single point on the season. He has been relegated to the fourth line. A lot of fans would have liked to see him scratched in place of Briere.

By the way, the Islanders probably aren’t going to Haka in the Pepsi Center, being from Long Island rather than the island of New Zealand. However, who wouldn’t pay good money to see hulks on hockey skates Haka?