Colorado Avalanche Hit the Road Against Columbus


The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a stretch where they played 11 of 13 on home ice, now the road games start to pick up again and tonight they face a disappointing Blue Jackets team.

After a convincing 3-0 win against the New Jerseys Devils on Thursday night (Calvin Pickard’s first NHL shutout), the Colorado Avalanche hit the road to play a Blue Jackets team taking a first class ride on the struggle train right now.

They possess sole lead for last place in the NHL, and are certainly having a real rough go at this year’s regular season play.

John Tortorella was brought in to try and stabilize a complete collapse that started early in the season, but he’s only provided the Blue Jackets with a 16-18-4 record since taking the helm.

Tonight, the Avalanche will be looking to widen the margin between themselves, Nashville, and the Canucks, while also attempting to close the gap between themselves and the Wild.

Game Notes

— Puck drop is at 5:00 PM Mountain Time tomorrow evening.

— The Colorado Avalanche come into this game 5-3-2 in their last 10, but 1-2 in their last 3. Still, there’s plenty to be hopeful about, especially with the promotion of Nikita Zadorov and Chris Bigras.

— The Columbus Blue Jackets come into the game 3-6-1 in their last 10, but just staunched the bleeding leftover from a 4-game losing streak with a win against Toronto on Wednesday.

— This will be the second time these two teams have met this year, and Columbus skated away with an early season victory against the Avalanche by a score of 4-3.

More From Mile High Sticking: A Tale of Two Teams

Both teams are coming off victories; however the tale is a bit different in each. The Avalanche shut out the Devils 3-0 and held them to 27 shots, while Columbus beat Toronto 3-1, but gave up 42 shots on net.

Nonetheless, both teams will be looking to continue the winning ways tonight, even if Columbus’ shot of making the playoffs is a dim light.

Here’s the players to keep an eye on.

Players to Watch

— Matt Duchene will continue to make this list at the rate he is going. He’s now on pace for a 40 goal season, and 68 points. If he starts notching a couple extra assists he could beat his career high of 70 points.

— Seth Jones, part of the recent one-for-one trade that took place between him and Ryan Johansen, is certainly a player to watch. It’s always interesting to see how new players acclimate to their team’s systems and style of play. I wonder what he thinks of Torts’ philosophy of blocking shots.

— Nathan MacKinnon is starting to get frustrated with his lack of goal scoring, but he’s still on pace to beat his career mark of 24 goals with 27 this season at his current rate. Nonetheless, he’s still tied for the scoring lead with Duchene, and if he can heat up than he’ll just add another dimension to the Avs.

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— At the time of writing this, there is no update on who will start in net for either team, but Sergei Bobrovsky was activated off IR yesterday, so he might stand between the pipes tonight.

— As I mentioned, there’s no news regarding either team’s goalie situation for tonight’s contest, but I’d expect Semyon Varlamov back in net tonight, and hopefully he’s able to provide a more convincing effort for his team. If it’s not him, then it will be Calvin Pickard, which I’m just fine with.

The Avalanche are back on the road, where they sport a 12-10 record. Only 3 teams have more wins on the road than the Avalanche, but a whole bunch are tied with 12 wins.

Columbus hasn’t been bad at home (7-9-4), but it’s still not great, so look for the Avalanche to try and take advantage.

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Also, keep an eye on Bigras and Zadorov of course, as both will be playing in their second game since the call-up. I thought that they both played really well against New Jersey, and particularly Zadorov with Francious Beauchemin.

Chris Bigras took one penalty, and over-skated the puck a couple of times, but first game jitters are to be expected. Regardless, he’ll be looking to contribute in a more confident fashion while he’s got the opportunity to push guys out of the lineup.

What to Expect

Well, I really don’t know what to say to this, it could be a blow-out by the Colorado Avalanche, or Columbus could feel a bit better after their recent win and give the Avs a tough time with this game.

If Colorado plays a strong, smart, and simple game then they will have no trouble beating Columbus, but that’s the recipe to beating any team in the NHL.

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Nonetheless, Columbus is a team that Colorado should beat easily, and that’s the effort they should look for tonight.

Tune in on Altitude at 5:00 PM Mountain, or head over to the Colorado Avalanche website to hear Marc Moser’s radio call of the game.

Enjoy the game folks!

What do you think Avs fans? What’s your opinion of Bigras’ debut? What did you think of Zadorov’s return to the ice? Will these two call-ups help the Avalanche? Finally, will Matt Duchene be able to net 40? Let us know what you think in the Comments!