Colorado Avalanche Come Home to Face the Isles


The Colorado Avalanche are coming back to the Pepsi Center after a successful road trip against the Central Division, going 3-0.

On Tuesday night, they even stopped forward Patrick Kane from continuing his 26 game point streak, as they shutout Chicago for Semyon Varlamov’s eighth straight win against the Blackhawks.

Tonight, the Colorado Avalanche have a chance to potentially climb within three points of the final wild card spot. The potentiality is dependent upon the result of the contest between Nashville and St. Louis.

However, they face the New York Islanders, a team they were unable to beat earlier this year in a 5-3 losing effort. The Isles are also in the Eastern Conference, and the Avalanche have the worst record against the East out of teams in the West, going 6-11-1.

For whatever reason, the Colorado Avalanche have struggled mightily against the Eastern Conference this season. In fact, two out of their three losses in the last ten are against the East, and one of those teams was the Islanders.

Game Notes

— We’re back home, so East Coast Avalanche fans are not going to like the start times, but puck drop is at 7:00 PM Mountain Time.

— The Colorado Avalanche are 7-3 in their last 10, and 11-6 since starting 4-9-1. And we here at MHS believe that if the Avs end their 2015 campaign on a high note, good things could be in store for 2016.

— The New York Islanders are also hot right now though. They’re 7-1-2 in their last 10, and they’re 8-0-2 streak of games was only ended on Tuesday night when Florida walloped them 5-1. That score is misleading though because at one point the Islanders were outshooting the Panthers 20-2.

More from Mile High Sticking

— This will be the second and final meeting between these two teams during the regular season, and probably until next year unless some of the most unlikely Conference Champions reach THE CUP Finals.

— This game begins a four game home-stand for the Colorado Avalanche, and they’ll be looking to improve upon their current 4-7-1 home record, which is only better than San Jose’s and Columbus’ home records.

It’s a home game folks, and we haven’t had that many this year. They’ve also been rather lackluster competitions to this point. But, if there is any chance of turning this season around, then the Avalanche need to come through with a strong showing on this home-stand.

The players will contribute to that result, so here’s a solely Avalanche edition of what players to watch in tonight’s contest.

Players to Watch

— M-m-m-m-m-Maaaaaaaaaat Duchene is still on fire, he’s slowed ever so slightly, but he still has 4 goals in 8 games during the month of December. You have to wonder, if he had a productive October, where would he stand in the current points leader race?

Mikhail Grigorenko is also under the scope tonight because I’m sure I’m not the only one that wants more out of him. He had a great game against St. Louis, but his game against Chicago needed more. If he wants to stay in the lineup, he needs to start producing.

Nathan MacKinnon had a good game against Chicago, and he’ll be looking to continue that tonight against the Isles. Mark me down for predicting a huge game from MacK, he’s been coming lately, and tonight the dam breaks.

More from Avalanche News

— At the time of writing this, it’s unclear who will be in net for the Colorado Avalanche, but it’s got to be Semyon Varlamov. He’s won his last four starts with a .98 GAA and .969 save percentage.

— Tyson Barrie is always on my radar because I want him to punch his 53 point performance in the face this season and drop at least 60 for his own sake. Last game he played fantastic, but he only got one point out of it. The wall is about to crumble and he’s going to “Break on Through to the Other Side”.

Well that’s all my player focuses for tonight’s contest, but keep on eye on Duchene and John Tavares in particular as they should both be poised for big performances. Both were drafted in the same year, Tavares at No. 1 and Duchene at No. 3.

Furthermore, at the time of writing this there is no update on Francois Beauchemin. He played a monster contest against Chicago, but took a head shot — literally — from Andrew Shaw near the end of the game, and missed the remaining minutes.

If he’s out of the lineup, then Nate Guenin is only going to get more minutes, an atrocity that should not happen to begin with.

So, keep an eye for Beauchemin on the horizon, hopefully he’ll make a return to the lineup because it’s hard to divvy out nearly 30 minutes of ice time amongst a plethora of unreliable defensemen.

Keys to an Avalanche Victory

Hopefully the W’s keep rolling in because Avs fans need this right now. It’s the holidays and the best Christmas present would be to watch the Avs climb the standings with unrelenting tenacity.

To do that, they’ll need to perform better against three of the teams they’ll face during this four game home-stand, and set the tone for the season against the Oilers. They have played the Islanders, the Coyotes, and the Maple Leafs this season already, and lost in all three match-ups.

They have yet to play the Oilers, but the Oilers are playing well recently, so they’ll need to show up for that contest.

Anyway, the Islanders are a very skilled offensive team, with an above adequate defense. Since the additions of Nick Leddy and Johnny Boychuck to the Islanders defensive roster last season, this team has been performing much better.

Next: Want to Become an Avs Writer?

They rely on an active defense, and a very productive group of forwards for success. So, the Colorado Avalanche will need to continue doing what has been working so well for them recently: a stifling neutral zone, active defensemen who jump in the play, and rock solid goaltending.

Tonight is a big night for the Avalanche, because coming home after a 3-0 road trip and giving your fans a victory provides the ultimate jump. Plus, they have the opportunity to reach .500 hockey for the first time since game 4 against the Anaheim Ducks.

So let’s holler and hoot for the boys tonight because it’s a big one, and they’re home for the next 17 out of 22 games, it’s time for a good home-stand.

What do you think Avs fans? How will the boys perform tonight after returning home following a such a successful road trip? Who will provide the jump for the Colorado Avalanche? And, who do they need to shut down on the Isles? Let us know what you think in the comments!