Colorado Avalanche Face Pittsburgh Penguins


The Colorado Avalanche face the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight as they look to get back on track and erase the 5-1 loss to Toronto from their consciousness. 

First of all, I would like to issue a formal apology for my desecration of hockey superstition in my previous article. And, I assure all that are interested that I am currently in the process of rehabbing my relationship with hockey superstition. I have made sacrificial offerings of Minnesota Wild jerseys in attempt to pay homage to the hockey gods, and reclaim my favor.

That being said, in my defense I only wanted to prove that this team is capable of winning games before they even hit the ice; alas, I was mistaken.

Speaking of the Minnesota Wild, how does Nino Niederreiter not get suspended for this hit when two Colorado Avalanche players have missed games for less? Outrageous! Maybe it’s just because I have a special cell for Niederreiter to rot in because of his game-winner in game 7 a few years back. Nonetheless that hit was atrocious, and he should pay the price.

More from Avalanche News

I know, you’re wondering how this is relevant. Well, it is because we play the Penguins tonight, and Olli Maata is still in the hospital at the time of writing this.

Maata is one of the Penguins’ best defensemen, and he’ll be out tonight. Sound familiar? Seems like the Minnesota Wild have a rare affinity for taking out star players with dirty hits — at least Matt Cooke got the book for his antics.

Anyway, let’s move passed all this and discuss some facets of the game the Avalanche will be playing tonight.

Game Notes

— Speaking of suspensions, Gabe Landeskog returns to the lineup tonight, and he is a much needed addition to a forward group that looks pretty dismal beyond the first line right now.

— Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon kept their point production intact in Tuesday’s game as they each earned an assist on the only goal scored by the Avalanche, defenseman Erik Johnsin. They will need to show up and play well again tonight.

— The Colorado Avalanche special teams were awful on Tuesday, as they resulted in every goal for Toronto: 4 PPGs against, and a short-handed goal against just for good measure. That cannot happen in tonight’s game.

— Special teams seem to be Reto Berra’s one area of weakness. The only other game he allowed more than 2 goals, besides Tuesday night’s contest, was the game against the Florida Panthers when he let in 3 PPGs and a short-handed bid as well. Pretty similar don’t you think?

— I’m not blaming this whole thing on Berra, even though the results are very similar. The team needed to play better in front of him on those power plays, and it’s pretty unacceptable to give up short-handed goals so early in the game, especially since they are so deflating to a team’s motivation.

— Speaking of goalies, at the time of writing this there is no update on Semyon Varlamov. Patrick Roy did express a possibility of his return against the Penguins, so that’s something to keep an eye on.

— The Penguins have been a streaky team this year, yet they still sport 22 points in a pretty tough Metropolitan Division.

— Interestingly enough, even with the talent of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel in their forward lineup, they are not scoring very much. The reason for their success is certainly the fantastic goaltending of Marc-Andre Fleury so far this year. Fleury has a 2.08 GAA, and a .929 save percentage so far this year.

— To end my short nuggets of information on the Penguins, their forwards can still do this:

Yeah… what?!?! I just love that it was against the Wild on Tuesday night. But we need to put a honing beacon on Malkin tonight, otherwise he’ll embarrass the Avalanche defense. He probably still will.

How do the Colorado Avalanche Win Tonight

Notice the heading is not “What to Expect” because I’ve learned from my misguided confidence. And, I no longer have total faith in my ability to offer you faithful fanbase reliable premonitions (I did call the road Boston game right though, no one will rob that from me…).

So, how do the Avs win tonight? Well, on Tuesday they held the Toronto Maple Leafs to earning fewer shots than they did, which is the 3rd time in four games that has happened on this road trip. But, they played a really disenchanting special teams game, and so they found themselves on the wrong side of five goals.

More From Mile High Sticking: Three Important Takeaways From Loss to Toronto

Tonight, they face a forward group that is bursting at the seams with skill, but their defense has been somewhat lackluster this year. (Huh, I wonder what that’s like.) With Olli Maata out, things will only be worse for the Pen’s defense.

So, as much as the Penguins are going to be attempting to jump on our defense with their forwards, the Colorado Avalanche need to do the same because both teams sport a rather shaky blue-line.

Regardless of how it’s done, this is a must-win for the Colorado Avalanche so they can go into their final two road games with some confidence to see the trip through on a high note. Furthermore, each game the Colorado Avalanche lose only makes the hole bigger that they have found themselves in. The Central Division is just too good for the Avs to lose this game tonight.

I’ve lost all my gall because I can’t and won’t give call a result to this game. And, I’m not sure the hockey gods would allow me to get away with another destruction of the altar, even with my sacrificial Wild jersey lambs.

Next: Should we be Worried About Tyson Barrie?

So, I stand before you a mere mortal — just the same as you — as I attempt to adjust to this new world of actually waiting for results to happen before I seek them.

Let’s go tonight boys! I’m running out of lambs and Wild jerseys, and if not for the sake of my well-being, at least look at where you stand in the division and do something about it! Here’s to a good game fellow Avalanche fans!

What do you think Avs fans? What do the Colorado Avalanche need to do tonight to get a win? Your comments are always appreciated, so don’t hesitate to join the conversation below!