Colorado Avalanche Face Reigning Cup Champs in Pittsburgh

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 17: Conor Sheary /

The Colorado Avalanche hope to get a winning streak going as they face the Pittsburgh Penguins on the third game of their roadie.

The Colorado Avalanche are coming into the PPG Paints Arena to face the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time this season.

The Penguins are coming off a 4-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re 5-5-0 in their last 10, and they’re in possession of the final Eastern Conference wild card spot by virtue of one point.

The Avalanche are coming off a 7-3 beating of the Florida Panthers. They’re 4-5-1 in their last 10, including a four-game losing skid. They’re five points out of a playoff spot with four teams ahead of them in the race.

All-time, the Colorado Avalanche have had a good record against the Pittsburgh Penguins, having gone 17-8-3-3(ties). Last year, the two teams split the series with Colorado winning in Pittsburgh in overtime.

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Game time: December 11 , 5:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), TVAS, SN (Pens feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Nate vs Sid

The story will always a comparison of Nathan MacKinnon to Sidney Crosby because they’re both from the small town of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. There shouldn’t be a comparison, though, because no one is really saying MacKinnon is as good as Crosby.

He is, however, our best player. And this season at least he doesn’t stack up too badly against Crosby. Nate leads the team with 33 points (11 goals, 22 assists) and has five points in the last four games. He was named star of the month for the entire NHL in November.

He also scored this filthy goal against the Panthers:

Crosby is second on the Penguins for scoring with 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists). He’s on a bit of a hot streak, which is never good for opponents, having recorded seven points in the last five games.

Sidney Crosby has scored a lot of filthy goals in his career, but he didn’t do so recently. So, I’ll just show you this rather pedestrian Crosby goal:

Secondary Scoring

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The Colorado Avalanche have needed their best players to be their best, and that’s happened to varying degrees. MacKinnon has certainly been impressive. His linemates, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen, haven’t put up quite the same numbers, but they’re still good.

The Avalanche have needed some secondary scoring, too, and they weren’t getting that for a while. However, in the Panthers game, we saw goals by both Colin Wilson and Erik Johnson. And both Matthew Nieto and Carl Soderberg potted in empty-netters.

Even the Penguins can’t win consistently by being the Sid Crosby Show, so we can’t rely solely on a MacK Attack every night.

Kerfoot is Kerplexing

Alexander Kerfoot also scored a goal against the Panthers in what I’m beginning to think of as the Kerfoot Special — by deflecting it off his body. He may have actually gotten his stick on the puck in the goal below, but that’s not clear:

Kerfoot has been perplexing lately. He’s third on the Avalanche for both goals and points. He’s fifth in the NHL among rookies for points with 21.

Yet he was also directly responsible for two goals against the Avs recently:

He was also on the ice for some of the other goals, but he wasn’t the biggest culprit in those cases. That said, his CorsiFor is 57.4% and his Relative Corsi is 12.7. That’s not too shabby.

Oh, and he’s shooting at a ridiculous 31% accuracy right now. Surely that’s not sustainable, but, wow. (Of course, at least two of his nine goals didn’t go in off actual shots…)

I’d say Alexander Kerfoot is a typical Avalanche player — he makes gigantic blunders, but overall he’s good.

Next: EJ Scores GWG, Leaves the Game

The Colorado Avalanche will face the Pittsburgh Penguins one more time, at home on December 18.