Colorado Avalanche: The Devils Come to Town

Oct 29, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nate Guenin (5) and defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16) talk against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 29, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nate Guenin (5) and defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16) talk against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche have lost their last two games, and will need to win tonight in order to stick around for the playoff race.

Nate Guenin departs and Nikita Zadorov steps in to take his place. One dismal and disappointing era ends (hopefully) and a younger one begins.

Let’s talk game news first…

This is a must win tonight for the Colorado Avalanche, there’s no way around that. If they lose, they drop back to .500, and squander an opportunity that saw them with the chance to take a good lead on the final playoff spot.

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Luckily, the Nashville Predators have been losing as well, so both teams are still tied for the final wild card spot. That will only last so long though, especially if the Avs let this one slip away.

So let’s hop to eh?

Game Notes

— Puck Drop is at 7:00 PM Mountain time tonight. This will be the second time these teams have met this season, and the Colorado Avalanche won the last contest by a score of 2-1.

— Both teams are fighting for a playoff spot this year. As Avs fans know, the Colorado Avalanche are tied for the final wild card spot with Nashville, though the Preds have a game in hand. The Devils are also currently tied for the final wild card spot in the East with the Bruins, but the Bruins have 3 games in hand.

— So — as often happens at this time of year — the desperation level is real, and both teams will be clawing and fighting for these two points, hopefully the Avs are able to come out on top.

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— Also, both teams seem to prefer the road this season, as they both sport a 9-10-3 home record and have 12 wins on the road. Hopefully the Colorado Avalanche will get their home record back to .500 tonight.

Expect a tough fought game tonight as both teams are coming off rather disenchanting losses. New Jersey lost at the hands of St. Louis 5-2 on Tuesday, and the Avs lost 4-0 to Tampa Bay on Tuesday as well.

Both teams will be looking to bounce back, and you can be sure that both teams will also be acutely aware of the desperation necessary to win this game. As such, the Avs and Devils will both be looking for certain players to step up, here’s who to watch.

Players to Watch

— Matt Duchene is still on tear, as he’s set to blow his current career high for goals out of the water. His current high is 27 goals back in the 2010-2011 season, he already has 21 this year and is on pace for 39, and 68 points. He’ll be looking to set up Nathan MacKinnon more if he wants to top his career high for points.

— As of writing this, there is no update on who will start in net for the Devils, but expect Corey Schneider because he is the backbone of this Devils team. He’s having a good year for the Devils, and it’s obvious how important he is to their success considering they’re one of four teams with under 100 goals on the year.

— The Colorado Avalanche are scoring in bunches this year as there are only three teams in the NHL that have scored more goals than them, and two of the three are in the Central Division. However, there are also only 5 teams that have allowed more goals than them, so something’s got to give, and Calvin Pickard will be looking to keep the Devils off the board tonight.

— MHS writer Will Radke just wrote a great article about the need for Colorado Avalanche defensive help, well we didn’t get the trade we may want, but let’s talk about the big news:

Obviously both players are going to be on watch tonight, especially Chris Bigras who will be making his NHL debut tonight. One has to wonder who’s going to get the scratch on D, Zach Redmond or Andrew Bodnarchuk?

Both Bigras and Nikita Zadorov are confirmed to play in the lineup. I predict that Bodnarchuk will ride the pine, and Zach Redmond will be given another shot at 3rd pairing minutes with Zadorov.

That leaves Bigras to slot in with Francois Beauchemin on the top pairing. However, Tyson Barrie and Nick Holden are sure to get most of the shut-down minutes, with Beauch coming on the ice at key times as well.

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Chris Bigras and Zadorov are both likely to receive sheltered minutes in tonight’s contest. And I suppose either one can be expected to play on the top pairing, I’m as certain about that as I am about the second pairing staying intact.

Unless Redmond gets the nod with Beauch and the two rooks get slotted together, unlikely…

What to Expect

Well, this game just received a lot of help in the excitement department with the call up of Zadorov and Bigras. I’m really interested to see what Chris Bigras brings to the table in his NHL debut.

Colorado Avalanche fans already know what Nikita Zadorov brings to the table, lots of hitting and some struggles with positioning. Hopefully he continues to bring the hitting, but is able to choose the right moments for those hits so that he doesn’t get out of position.

Zadorov also has a good stick, so hopefully we’ll see that on display tonight. It will be fun to watch the future of this defensive corps tonight.

Keep on eye on Bigras because he is expected to take Beauch’s spot on the top pairing with Erik Johnson sooner rather than later.

Bigras and Zadorov have been playing relatively well in San Antonio this year, with 18 and 19 points on the year respectively. Bigras has played in every single game (37) for the Rampage, and is a +2. Zadorov missed 9 games on the year while playing with the big club, and is a -5.

So, expect a learning curve for these two, and especially Bigras because tonight will be his first game at this level.

Zadorov has played in a total of 78 NHL games, so he’s a bit more used to the game at the NHL level, but still has a lot to learn. Hopefully he’ll use his AHL experience to his advantage and play a little more conservatively.

Even with the two new additions to the defensive lineup, and the uncertainty that brings to this game, I still expect a hard fought desperate game from both clubs, and it should be an entertaining one to watch.

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Tune in on Altitude at 7:00 PM Mountain Time, as mentioned. Also, one can always catch the game on the radio at the Avalanche website, and Marc Moser makes a pretty good call of the game.

Enjoy the game folks, and let’s hope for a good one!

What do you think of the call-up Avs fans? What can we expect from Bigras and Zadorov in tonight’s contest? What do you think the defensive pairings will be? Let us know in the comments!