Avs Look to Tomahawk Blackhawks


The Colorado Avalanche host the Chicago Blackhawks in the first of five meetings between the Central Division rivals.

Historically, the Avs have done well against the Blackhawks. However, the Avalanche are going into the game with a lot of players injured. Plus, they flew back to Denver last night after a long, tough game against the Arizona Coyotes.


Erik Johnson

Colorado’s cornerstone defensemane, Erik Johnson, took a targeted elbow to the head from Arizona Coyote forward Martin Hanzal. He was down on the ice for an extended time, but was able to skate off the ice under his own power.

Initial reports were that he was ok. However, Denver Post writer Mike Chambers later reported that Johnson had a possible head injury, maybe a concussion.

This is a disaster for the Avs, who already have eight players out with injury. Not only is Johnson their best defenseman, but he’s been one of their best players all season. He’s logging the most ice time, doing duty on both the power play and penalty kill and defending against the top lines. He has four goals and nine assists on the season so far.

Goalie Situation

Goalie Semyon Varlamov is one of those players out with an injury, a groin pull. Reto Berra started out strong at the beginning of the season, but now he’s lost some confidence. He got pulled in the first period of the last two games.

Head coach Patrick Roy has already announced that rookie Calvin Pickard will start against Chicago.

Fan Base

Avs Nation is great, but when the ‘Hawks come to town, there’s too much red in the stands. Coach Roy has remarked upon it, and even Chicago forward Patrick Sharp has commented on how nice it is to play in Pepsi Center with all the Blackhawks fans.

Hopefully way more Avs than ‘Hawks fans show up to the game.

Keys to the Game


While Colorado’s defense has been excellent this season, especially since implementing a hybrid zone system, the D-corps is starting to look a mite thin. Besides the potential loss of Johnson, Ryan Wilson is sideline for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Brad Stuart is not progressing as well as they’d like after suffering a hamstring injury.

Nonetheless, the Avs are #8 in the league in goals scored by defensemen with 10. Of course, Johnson has 40% of those, so…


The game against the Blackhawks is the second of back-to-back games, which are always tough. It’s even tougher when the team had to travel for one of them. Considering the come-from-behind nature of the Arizona game, the Avs are bound to be tired.

The ‘Hawks, on the other hand, have been lazing around Denver for two days.

Who’s Hot, Who’s Not


Avalanche center Ryan O’Reilly is struggling, and a lot of Avalanche fans are frustrated. After the drama of the off-season contract negotiations with him, we expected O’Reilly to prove his worth. Yet he’s got on two goals and is -12. This despite the fact he’s playing with his longtime linemate, and star center, Matt Duchene.


“Great leadership tonight again. (MacKinnon’s) line was outstanding against Carolina. They were again tonight.” Patrick Roy

Nathan MacKinnon

‘s line is on fire right now. Captain

Gabriel Landeskog

is doing especially well. He scored two goals against the Coyotes, and is on a four-game points streak. MacKinnon himself leads the team in points with 17, and

Jarome Iginla

seems to finally be hitting his stride.

Forward Daniel Briere is also doing very well. After seeing his ice time diminish, then being a healthy scratch for seven games in a row, he seems to be working his way back onto the team. He’s got two goals since returning for a total of four on the season. Most impressively, the Arizona goal was his third game-winner of the season.

The game starts at 7:00 pm in Pepsi Center.