Game 20 Preview: Washington Capitals @ Colorado Avalanche


The Colorado Avalanche (6-8-5) return home, looking to build on a two-game winning streak they collected in the New England region of their recent road travels. Now they will hope to Capitalize, hehe, on a nice stretch of five out of six games at home, starting with the Washington Capitals (8-7-3) tonight.

The Avalanche will look toward their leading scorer, Matt Duchene, to spearhead the offense. Duchene has scored in each of the last two games for the Avs, including the game-winner in the final minutes against the New Jersey Devils the last time the Avalanche played. Dutchy looks motivated and energized, and enters the homestand with 3 points in his last 2 games.

One player the Avalanche won’t be able to rely on, is their primary goaltender Semyon Varlamov. Varly has another groin injury, the same issue that kept him out earlier this season. While Roy has stated keeping him out of the lineup is precautionary, it still has to make Avalanche fans a bit wary that he has had two groin issues through the first month and a half of the season.

Reto Berra will get the nod as the guardian between the pipes, with the recently recalled Calvin Pickard rocking the baseball cap on the bench. Berra has posted a 2.70 goals against average and 0.914 save percentage in his 6 appearances thus far. Avalanche fans will also remember the last time Varly was sidelined. Berra got the start in Montreal, and within a couple minutes, he was run over and had to leave the game. Calvin Pickard, who probably didn’t expect to see any action, went from flying to Ottawa unexpectedly, to being the man in the spotlight all in the same day.

Washington enters the contest with an arsenal of familiar faces. The Caps are not the same dynamic and elite team of the Eastern Conference that they were a few years ago, but they still boast talented scorers. Denver is the third and final stop for Washington on their current three-game road trip.

Alex Ovechkin is the player who will sell tickets. The former 60 goal scorer is on a slow pace for his standards thus far, with 8 lamp lighters in 18 games. He has 8 assists to round out his stat-line. Niklas Backstrom continues to be the creative top line center, and Mike Green is the third leading scorer for the DC based franchise.

Looking further down the lineup, you will notice a few new names, and tricky ones to pronounce I might add. Andre Burakovsky is a 19 year old from Austria, who has had a nice impact on the wing with 12 points in 18 games. He has spent time on Ovechkin’s wing this season, which is quite a compliment to what the Caps’ brass thinks of the youngster. Evgeny Kuznetsov is another youthful guy, at 22 years of age. He hails from the Motherland, Russia, and has been playing 2nd/3rd line center minutes. His scoring isn’t overly impressive, but he is a guy with a lot of talent.

Should be an exciting game, with me inclining to say it will be an offensive affair. The Avs won’t be sporting their number one goaltender, and Braden Holtby isn’t the most fearsome netminder in the league. The Capitals boast the third best power play in the NHL, at 24.6%. The Avalanche have the 5th best penalty kill in the NHL at 88.2%. This is one of the key matchups tonight. Especially considering Varlamov is the key ingredient to the Avs successful PK. Reto Berra gave up 3 power play goals in his last outing against the Flyers.

Prediction: 4 – 2 good guys!

That sweet Landy goal from last season

Nice try Ovechkin…

Avalanche Projected Lines (Updated at game-time)

Guys Up Front

O’Reilly 90 – Duchene 9 – Tanguay 40

Landeskog 92 – Mitchell 7 – Iginla 12

Everberg 45 – MacKinnon 29 – Briere 48

McLeod 55 – Cliche 24 – Talbot 25

Out – McGinn 11 (back?), Winchester 18 (noggin)


Hejda 8 – Johnson 6

Barrie 4 – Guenin 5 – Barrie 4

Holden 2 – Redmond 22

Out – Stuart 17 (hamstring)

Guys Between the Pipes

Berra 20 (start)

Pickard 31

Out – Varlamov 1 (loins)

Fun Feature:

I went to the Nuggets game last night, and Nathan MacKinnon and his girlfriend were in attendance. Randomly during the game, they played the Avalanche goal-horn and goal-song. I was thinking, “what the heck is this?” Then they introduced MacKinnon on the jumbotron, and it made sense.

Rocky also dragged MacKinnon out to center court to do the over the head, half-court shot attempt. Let’s just say, MacKinnon made a good choice to be a hockey player! He almost put a dent in the new scoreboard!