The Colorado Avalanche continue their preseason against the (hated) Minnesota Wild. Here are three questions the team hopes to answer in this second preseason game.
The Colorado Avalanche are heading off on their first road trip of the preseason. As with the first preseason game, which took place at the Pepsi Center, the game is meaningless to everyone except the prospects.
The game today also heralds the return of that so frustrating of rivalries, against the Minnesota Wild. Last season, it was so good to own Minny. It happens so rarely. While half of both teams are sure to be comprised of prospects who’ve never participated in the rivalry, it will still (hopefully) be gratifying to fans.
For some weird reason, the Minnesota Wild have already played three games to Colorado’s one. Correction: The Wild have lost three preseason games to Colorado’s one:
- Minnesota at Winnipeg: Jets 2, Wild 1
- St. Louis at Minnesota: Blues 3, Wild 2
- Dallas at Minnesota: Stars 3, Wild 1
The Avalanche hosted the Vegas Golden Knights on Tuesday, losing 5-1.
Anyway, let’s get on to the big questions of the game this afternoon.
How to Enjoy the Game
Game time: September 22, 4:00 pm MT
TV Networks: NHLN-US , FS-N
Radio: Altitude Radio (FM 92.5)
How will Grubauer do in his Debut?
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It’s no secret that Philipp Grubauer and Semyon Varlamov are in a gentleman’s battle for the starting goalie position. In fact, it’s one of the major storylines of the season.
Well, Varlamov started with a fizzle. After missing the end of the season and all of the playoffs with an injury, he had a lot of rust, and it showed in the preseason opener against the Vegas Golden Knights. Through two periods he allowed three goals on 24 shots.
The starter job is his to lose, though. The coaching staff and the players know him. The onus is on Grubauer to show his mettle.
Coach Jared Bednar has stated that he’s going to be looking at NHLers on the last two games of the preseason, that these initial games are for looking at the prospects. But you can’t tell me he and the front offices — not to mention Avs players — won’t be watching to see what Grubauer can do.
For his part, Philipp is looking forward to the challenge:
"“Every second you get out there on the ice with your teammates is good because you learn from them. It’s going from practices to games and adapting what they do in practice and learn from them in games.”"
How much Better are Jost, Girard, and Kerfoot?
At least three sophomores will be playing tonight, and they’re all three expected to have big roles this season.
Samuel Girard and Alexander Kerfoot were tasked with getting bigger in the offseason without sacrificing speed and agility. Both looked good in training camp. Tonight will be their first game-readiness test.
Tyson Jost was tasked with getting leaner and faster in the offseason. He’s also expected to take a big step forward in his development and take over the second-line center position. His training camp looked good. Like the above sophomores, tonight will be his chance to show off his improvement.
Which Prospects will Shine?
This second game of the preseason is mostly about seeing what the Colorado Avalanche prospects can do. The biggest name that could potentially play — it hadn’t been confirmed at the time of writing — is this year’s first-rounder, Martin Kaut.
A player who has been confirmed to play is Pavel Francous. He’s slated to back up Grubauer. He’s fighting for the #3 goalie position. In the first preseason game, Varlamov played two periods, and Spencer Martin played one. The team hadn’t released if that will be tonight’s format, but it would make sense.
Tonight marks the first of two meetings in the preseason between the Colorado Avalanche and the Minnesota Wild. They’ll play again in Colorado on September 28. And, of course, the Avs start their regular season against the Wild on October 4.