Colorado Avalanche: 3 Questions for Preseason Game vs Dallas

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 19: Rocco Grimaldi
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 19: Rocco Grimaldi /

The Colorado Avalanche still have questions to answer as they host the Dallas Stars for their second preseason game.

The Colorado Avalanche are hosting the Dallas Stars for the second preseason game of the year.

The roster has been reduced to 48. Previously, the team had reassigned the following players:

  • Josh Anderson (Prince George, WHL)
  • Sam Brittain (San Antonio, AHL)
  • Tom Gregoire (Sherbrooke, QMJHL)
  • Hugo Roy (Sherbrooke, QMJHL)
  • Ben Storm  (San Antonio, AHL)

Yesterday, the team reassigned three more players:

  • Gage Ausmus (San Antonio camp invite, AHL)
  • Nicolas Meloche (San Antonio, AHL)
  • Ty Lewis (Brandon, WHL)

The reassignment of Meloche was a little surprising. He seemed to be having a good camp. However, I noticed at some point in the third period he wasn’t getting much ice time. So, apparently the coaching staff saw something they don’t feel they need right now.

The result of the Avalanche’s first preseason game was unideal — 4-1.

Tonight is a new game, though. At the time of writing, the roster for tonight’s game hadn’t been announced. So far, the only legit NHLers who’ve seen preseason time are Erik Johnson, Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Carl Soderberg and Matthew Nieto. I presume most of them won’t play tonight.

These preseason games are about evaluating prospect talent, so let’s see what questions we want answered tonight.

Which Defensemen will Distinguish Themselves?

Right now there are about 11 defensemen fighting for about three roster spots. I’d say of those 11, there’s only five who legitimately have a chance of making the opening night roster.

GM Joe Sakic has already said he thinks Anton Lindholm will be “one of our guys.” That’s not a guarantee, but maybe a spot is his to lose.

Based on the player himself, I’d say Andrei Mironov is in a good position, too. He left the KHL to play in the NHL, and he’s been acting like a player who wants to distinguish himself.

Chris Bigras has got to be gunning to earn a roster spot after playing 45 games two seasons ago. So far he’s been up and down in the preseason.

Duncan Siemens showed an unfortunate case of nerves against the Vegas Golden Knights. If he plays tonight, he’s going to want to show a lot of poise.

Jared Cowen is playing for his career, plain and simple. If he doesn’t earn a contract with his PTO, his NHL career is probably over. So far, he’s been showing that he can skate and is willing to hit anything in an opponent jersey. His five years’ experience in the NHL makes him look more polished next to green prospects, too.

How’s the Goalie Situation Working Out?

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Spencer Martin played the entire game against the Knights, which was a little surprising. His save percentage was .857%, and he allowed three goals in the first period.

All in all, he didn’t look like a confident goalie. You could make a case for rust, but it was just a poor showing. I don’t know why Joe Cannata didn’t get a chance to show his skills.

Neither goalie is fighting for an opening night roster spot. Semyon Varlamov is the presumed starter and free agency acquisition Jonathan Bernier his presumed backup.

Well… you never know if Bernier might be taking aim at the starter position. He’s been in the situation before where he could distinguish himself enough in the preseason that he earns more games in the regular season.

Even if there’s no goalie battling, we’ll still want to see how Varlamov performs, if he plays tonight. He showed only flashes of greatness in the Burgundy and White game. I mean, he was facing primarily prospects, yet he allowed five goals.

Varlamov said after the scrimmage that he needed to get his timing back — he was out eight months. He added:

"“It takes time for me to feel adjusted to the game. I need to play a couple more games before the season starts.”"

Needless to say, with a young defense on the ice, the Colorado Avalanche are going to need a poised goalie in net.

Will the Referees Continue to Overcall Games?

I’m going to predict that the answer to this question is “yes.” It appears the officials want to take a stand on “faceoff violations” and slashing. And they want to apparently have more of a hand in the game.

Well, the Colorado Avalanche struggled on special teams last year. In the Vegas game, there were 16 penalties called. Some of them were overlapping, but that still allowed the team to work on both their power play and penalty kill.

Tonight against the Stars, they’ll probably get similar chances.

Next: Top 4 Prospects Still Remaining

The game takes place at Pepsi Center at 7 pm MT. There is no television broadcast of the game. However, you can listen to it on Altitude Radio.