The Colorado Avalanche are facing their final preseason foe, the Los Angeles Kings, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Considered one of the most exciting exhibition matches, the Frozen Fury is an annual contest which the LA Kings have been hosting since 1997. Of the past 16 games, only three were not against the Colorado Avalanche.
In other words, it’s become something of a tradition for the two teams to meet and duke it out in Las Vegas right before starting the regular season.
Last year the game went all the way to the shootout, which the Colorado Avalanche won. That victory provided Colorado’s only of a dismal preseason.
The Colorado Avalanche come into tonight’s match having already won a game at least, against the Anaheim Ducks. They also took the last match against the Kings, in Pepsi Center, to the shootout before losing. So the Avalanche have a 1-3-1 record in the preseason. LA’s is 3-1-1.
Suffice it to say, the Colorado Avalanche really need this win.
What’s the Team Look Like?
Both teams should have pert near their opening night lineup skating tonight. Colorado still has a few prospects (Borna Rendulic, Dennis Everberg, Mikko Rantanen) and a couple PTOs (Jack Skille, Curtis Glencross) they’re considering. In fact, as of the time of writing they need to reduce their roster by three players.
Patrick Roy has identified who his four centers are — Matt Duchene, Carl Soderberg, Nathan MacKinnon and John Mitchell. We know who the two goalies are — Semyon Varlamov with Reto Berra as back up. We know Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin are the top pairing and that Tyson Barrie is going to comprise the second pairing with… possibly Brandon Gormley. Possible Nikita Zadorov. Nate Guenin‘s still on the team, so that’s on the table.
That’s the first roster question. The next comes in what the lines will look like. Captain Gabriel Lanedeskog has shown a lot of chemistry with fellow Swede Carl Soderberg. They both looked good with Mikko Rantanen, but asking an 18-year-old to skate on the top line is a bit much. Duchene looks likely to skate with Jarome Iginla and possible Alex Tanguay, though Mikhail Grigorenko is an option.
Who exactly MacKinnon and Mitchell are centering remains to be seen.
Keys to the Game
That Old Black Magic
It’s beginning to look like there’s a force field covering the net whenever the Colorado Avalanche are on the offensive. The star shooters are getting looks, but the puck just isn’t going in.
The Avs have got to find that old black magic, that scoring touch. And they need to do it tonight before having to face Minnesota on Thursday. The Wild are in their heads — they’re in all our heads. The Colorado Avalanche need to go into the game with confidence, and that starts tonight.
A minimum of two goals is necessary. Six or seven would be better.
There’s no better place to put on a show than Las Vegas. The Colorado Avalanche have the star power to do just that.
Last season center Nathan MacKinnon seemed to disappear at times. Yeah, looks like he’s done with that. He has been a force on the ice, and he’ll perfect that wraparound — and score with it — pretty darn soon.
Matt Duchene on a breakaway is a beautiful sight. Let’s take a moment to enjoy:
Erik Johnson has looked dominant. Gabriel Landeskog looks like he’s picking up right where he left off. Jarome Iginla is already going into power forward mode, and Alex Tangay’s hands are as soft as ever. Then there’s that crazy kid Mikko who shouldn’t be as good as he is. And that wild mustang Nikita Zadarov. And Mr. Clutch, Tyson Barrie, and Semyon Varlamov and his magical saves…
You get the point. The Colorado Avalanche have it in them to put on a show worthy of their (MGM) Grand surroundings in glittery Las Vegas.
This Avalanche preseason game is getting televised, both on Altitude TV and on the NHL Network. Puck drop is at 8:00 MDT.
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