Colorado Avalanche Face Important Division Match in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, MB - MARCH 4: Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck
WINNIPEG, MB - MARCH 4: Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck /

The Colorado Avalanche need to win an important Central Division game, this time against the Jets in Winnipeg. They need all the points they can get.

The Colorado Avalanche have headed up to Winnipeg where the weather is a fresh -20 — that’s right, negative 20. More important than whether the frigid air will inspire Avs players to actually wear gloves is the fact that they’re facing the Central Division rival Jets.

The Winnipeg Jets are, in fact, tops in the Central Division. This is the two teams’ third of four meetings. Both times the Avalanche prevailed in overtime — both times with a score of 3-2.

Unfortunately, injured center Nathan MacKinnon played a big role in both games. He had a goal and an assist in both games. His goal was the overtime game winner in the November 29 game. In this game as in all others for at least two weeks, Colorado will have to find ways to win without MacKinnon.

For those of you keeping tally at home, this is the the second of hopefully only seven games the Avs will have to play sans MacKinnon.

The Colorado Avalanche are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday. The Jets are coming off a 3-2 overtime loss against the Vegas Golden Knights, also on Friday.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: February 3 , 5 pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude 2 (Avs feed), SN (Jets feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Western Conference Standings

More from Mile High Sticking

As noted, the Winnipeg Jets lead the Central Division with 69 points. What’s crazy is that their 69 points are just nine more than the Avs have. Yet the (hated) Minnesota Wild just beat the Vegas Golden Knights (What happened to their being unstoppable?) and leap-frogged the Avs for the final wild card berth.

What’s really frustrating is that there are 13 points separating the top Pacific Division team (Vegas, 72 points) and #4 in the Pacific (LA Kings, 59). Conference-wise, the Avalanche are #8, but they don’t have a seed in the playoffs currently.

Now, I know I said in a previous post that the  Avalanche have no hope of making the playoffs without their star center. I still think they have slim to none. However, the longer they maintain their playoff hopes, the longer we get to see meaningful hockey.

In other words, this is pretty much a must-win for Colorado.

Team Effort

The Colorado Avalanche have managed to win without Nathan MacKinnon. They did so in Edmonton. Now you could make a case that, when they went into the third period leading 3-1, the game shouldn’t have gotten to overtime. Nonetheless, they got two points against the Edmonton McDavids.

And they did so with a team effort. With Nathan out, Colorado had to get scoring from two defensemen (Nikita Zadorov, Samuel Girard), a grinder (Blake Comeau) and a rookie (J.T. Compher).

Well, that’s mostly what the Avs are comprised of now — rookies, grinders, defensemen, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen.

Who needs to score tonight? Rantanen and/or Landeskog, a rookie and a defenseman. Another journeyman tally would be gravy, but the Avs can win with a Rantanen-Jost-Johnson kind of night. And with Jonathan Bernier pulling a little more magic out of the air as the hot goalie.

Next: All About Girard's 1st Avs Goal

The Colorado Avalanche will head back to Winnipeg for one more meeting after tonight, on February 16. That will be their fourth and final meeting, After tonight the Avs head home for a single game, against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.