Colorado Avalanche Play One-Game Roadie in Winnipeg

WINNIPEG, MB - FEBRUARY 3: Blake Wheeler
WINNIPEG, MB - FEBRUARY 3: Blake Wheeler /

The Colorado Avalanche travel to Winnipeg to face the Jets in their fourth meeting of the year. The Avs hope to improve their road record.

The Colorado Avalanche continue their grueling February as they head off to Winnipeg for a one-game road trip. This marks the fifth road game this month with only two home games in between.

Colorado and Winnipeg have met three times already this season. The Avalanche prevailed the first two times, while the Jets took the February 3, contest in Winnipeg.

Colorado is coming off a 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens at home — goalie Semyon Varlamov made 44 saves for the shutout. The Winnipeg Jets are coming off a 4-3 overtime win against the Washington Capitals.

The Colorado Avalanche have 66 points, which puts them just on the outside looking in for the last wild card spot in the Western Conference (though they’d be the third seed in the Pacific). On the road, they’re 11-14-3 — they’ll need to get to and over .500 if they want to have a real playoff chance.

How to Enjoy the Game

Game time: February 16, 6:00pm MT
TV Networks: Altitude TV (Avs feed), TSN3 (Jets feed)
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)

Possible Goalie Controversy

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Last time the two teams met, the Jets shut the Avalanche out — it was only the second time that season Colorado had been shut out. The goalie then was Connor Hellebuyck. (Boy am I glad he’s not an Av — I would never get that spelling right on a regular basis.)

No news yet if Hellebuyck will be the goalie in net tonight, though he was the other two times the teams played as well. This season so far, Hellebuyck has gone 29-8-8 with a goals against average of 2.37 and save percentage of .922.

After Varlamov’s shutout performance, I it would be hard not to start him against Winnipeg. He’s played 2 1/2 games against the Jets this season — the half game comes from the January 2, game when he got injured. Because of that injury, he hasn’t played quite as many games as Hellebuyck. Varlamov has a 14-11-2 record with a 2.80 goals against average and .914 save percentage.

However, the Colorado Avalanche announced the following:

It will be Jonathan Bernier in net tonight. He has a 17-10-2 record with a 2.74 goals against average and .916 save percentage.

MacKinnon to Return Soon

After yesterday’s practice, coach Jared Bednar announced that Nathan MacKinnon would not be traveling with the team to Winnipeg. He added:

"“He is one of the best players in the game, especially this year. You look at what he has done for our team, it’s a big hole. We have missed him. We have managed to sort of tread water here and carve out some points without him, but certainly adding him back into our lineup changes things significantly for us. So, we are looking forward to that day when that comes.”"

He also said that MacKinnon was “questionable” for Sunday’s matinee game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Mike Chambers of the Denver Post took some video of MacKinnon at practice.

As noted above, the Colorado Avalanche have gone 4-3-0 without MacKinnon. However, that slightly winning record belies his importance. With MacKinnon in the lineup, Colorado had 3.27 goals per game and a 20.3% power play. Coming out of the Buffalo Sabres game, Colorado had 2.3 goals per game and a power play at 9%. That is a significant drop in offensive production.

Blake Comeau made the trip with the team, though, and is expected to play tonight, likely on his old line with Carl Soderberg and Matt Nieto.

Next: Dream Trade Deadline Move for the Avs

Tonight is the fourth and final matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Winnipeg Jets. After tonight, Colorado returns home to host the Edmonton Oilers in a Sunday matinee game.