Colorado Avalanche Want Win Streak to Continue vs Blue Jackets

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01: Nathan MacKinnon
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 01: Nathan MacKinnon /

The Colorado Avalanche will try to extend their win streak to four when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. This is the first of a two-game series.

More from Mile High Sticking

The Colorado Avalanche are hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets for the fourth game of their season-high six-game home stand. The Avs have won three in a row, so they’d like to keep that streak alive.

The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a thrilling 3-2 overtime victory that saw the play go into overtime in the waning seconds of the third period. Colorado won the game on a gorgeous Erik Johnson goal with just 10 seconds left in overtime. The Blue Jackets did the Avs a solid by beating their Central Division rival Dallas Stars 2-1.

Historically, the Avalanche have done well against Columbus. All time they’ve gone 37-14-3-1(ties). However, I should note that Columbus came into the NHL as an expansion team in 2000, and not under the generous circumstances that’s seeing Las Vegas thrive. It wasn’t until their final game of their fourth season that Columbus beat Colorado.

Last season, the two teams split the series with each team winning in each other’s barn. Tonight marks the first of their two-game series.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: January 4, 7:00 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), FS-O (BJs’ feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Lines to Watch

Needless to say, you’re going to want to watch MacK Daddy and the Scandinavians — Nathan MacKinnon flanked by captain Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. MacKinnon is seeing the game on a whole new, elite level. I mean, even the NHL Twitter is questioning MacKinnon’s reality:

However, the other line you should be watching is the exact opposite of the Magic Line — it’s the Working Class Line. Comprised of Blake Comeau, Matthew Nieto, and Carl Soderberg, this is as blue collar as a line gets. Yet they’ve been quietly providing a stable backbone for the team.

The Working Class Line has been together for a couple months now. When the MacK Daddy Line isn’t spinning its magic web, the journeymen pitch in. This is not a line I would have ever envisioned, but you never know when players are going to click.

Challenges from the Blue Jackets

The present-day Blue Jackets are not the team of yesteryear.

A few seasons ago, they finally came into their own and got competitive. They made the playoffs in 2008-09. Our golden Why Not Us season was golden for them as well — 2013-14 marked the second time they made the playoffs and the first time they won playoff games (two of them).

In the last couple years, they’ve had some impressive streaks. This is a team that plays well.

Union and Blue editor Lansing Murphy gave me some insight into his team:

"“Since the 2016-2017 John Tortorella had a sign hanging for the players to see everyday that said “Safe is Death”. He wanted the team to take risky, fly around the ice, and leave gaping gaps in coverage if it meant a goal could be possible. But following a rough December that was plagued by poor, reckless decision making, the sign came down. “"

Now, the BJs have a good defense with a foundation of Jack Johnson, David Savard and Seth Jones augmented by youngsters Markus Nutivaara and Zach Werenski. The blueline seems better than the o-line, so this strategy seems weird to me. Indeed, according to Murphy, it’s going in another direction now:

"“In the game against Dallas on Tuesday you saw a defensively focused CBJ squad that played a tight checking game that offered little to no window for their opponent. With “Safe is Death” out the window, Dallas only managed 22 shots on net and didn’t have a power play opportunity all night. With the best goalie in the world in Sergei Bobrovsky between the pipes, it is almost impossible to score on this team.”"

Oh, boy, if any team is the Avs’ brother from another mother, it’s the Stars. And we all know how badly Colorado plays against a stifling defense.

Murphy questioned just that:

"“I think the biggest challenge the Avs face is going to be how they score on a new, defensively focused Jackets team. I am having trouble seeing a team that only has one true playmaker scoring enough to win.”"

Well, when that playmaker is Nathan MacKinnon, who dangled mentor Sidney Crosby with ease:

No, the Colorado Avalanche have shown they can get it done. You shut down MacKinnon? Alexander Kerfoot will bank one in off your d-man’s, er, derriere. Or Patrik Nemeth, who’s suddenly gotten a taste for shooting, will chip one in. And there’s always the Working Class Line…

Next: Beauty of EJ's OT Goal

After tonight’s match up, the Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets won’t play again until March 8 in Columbus.