Colorado Avalanche: 3 Questions for Preseason Games Against Minnesota

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 21: Matt Duchene
DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 21: Matt Duchene /

Following a decisive victory over the Stars, the Colorado Avalanche play the Minnesota Wild in their third and fourth preseason contests of the season.

Recap of Preseason Game # 2

By all accounts, the Colorado Avalanche looked really good in a 5-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. It does raise the following question: “If the Avs score three goals on three consecutive shots, but the game is not broadcast anywhere on television, did it actually happen?” According to the NHL, it did indeed!

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Based on Marc Moser’s radio call, which is primarily what I’m basing this brief review upon, most of the Avalanche regulars and prospects, alike, who were in the lineup did an exemplary job. Nail Yakupov, Alex Kerfoot, David Warsofsky, and Chris Bigras all had multiple point nights, while Semyon Varlamov made 21 saves on 22 shots, playing the entire game, an encouraging sign.

The team scored two power play goals on nine chances, good for 22 %. The game sounded choppy, at best, based on the constant stream of players to the penalty box from both teams.  Finally, the oft-traded in rumors, Matt Duchene scored a third period goal, won 81 % of his faceoffs, and looked very comfortable playing on a line with Yakupov and Kerfoot.

Preview of Preseason Games # 3 & 4: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild

The Avalanche begin a stretch of three games in as many nights (the only time that will be said all season) with a trip to St. Paul, to play the Wild. With so many games in a short span, it is near impossible to predict who will play in which game(s). With that in mind, here are a few questions to keep in mind leading into the weekend.

Will Nail Yakupov Continue to Impress?

DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 21: Nail Yakupov
DENVER, CO – SEPTEMBER 21: Nail Yakupov /

When Nail Yakupov signed with the Avalanche over the summer, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew he had a great draft pedigree, and raw talent. However, he had done very little while on the Oilers, or Blues, so much so that the latter organization failed to offer him a contract. It seems that the Avs may have found a diamond in the rough, in the form of the young Russian.

By all accounts, Yakupov has stood out in a positive way throughout training camp. He was also excellent in the Burgundy/White Scrimmage, and again in his first preseason game. Even more encouraging is his chemistry with Matt Duchene, who it appears will start the season in Colorado. The speed of that duo will be exciting to see, for as long as it remains in Denver.

Can David Warsofsky Make the Opening Night Roster?

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – MAY 19: David Warsofsky
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – MAY 19: David Warsofsky /

Amidst all the stressing out about Nikita Zadorov’s contract, and the bevy of prospects trying to make the Colorado Avalanche roster, David Warsofsky signed with the organization to little fanfare earlier in the summer. The former Boston University captain has spent most of his pro career in the AHL, where he was an All-Star for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season.

However, on a roster short on NHL experience on the blue line, Warsofsky, who put up 47 points in 58 games for the WBS Pens last year, is threatening for a roster spot. He played over 23 minutes in his preseason opener, including over 7 minutes of PP time, recording a goal, and an assist in the process.

While he still may be a long shot to crack the opening night roster, especially in light of Colorado’s waiver position, the undersized, but speedy, 27 year old is certainly giving Colorado’s front office something to think about. If nothing else, he should greatly help the Rampage, if he goes to San Antonio.

How Will Jonathan Bernier Play in His Avalanche Debut?

At some point over the weekend, Jonathan Bernier will likely make his Avalanche debut. As encouraging as Varlamov’s start against Dallas was, it is fair to say the Avs will need two good goaltenders this season. In Jonathan Bernier, they appear to have found not just a backup, but a good 1B option, should Varly get injured.

Next: Guessing the Forward Lines After Preseason Game 2

Bernier has not appeared in either of the first two preseason games, or the Burgundy/White Scrimmage. As such, I am looking forward to his team debut. His 38 games with the Anaheim Ducks last year were largely impressive. I think we can expect a similar workload from him this year, based on Varly’s injury history, and hopefully similar effectiveness.

The Colorado Avalanche preseason weekend schedule is as follows:

  • Saturday, Sept. 23: Avalanche at Wild, 4 pm MT
  • Sunday, Sept. 24: Wild at Avalanche, 5 pm MT
  • Monday, Spet. 25: Avalanche at Stars, 6:30pm MT

The Saturday Wild game will be broadcast on Fox Sports North. Altitude Radio will broadcast all three games.