Colorado Avalanche Preseason vs Minny: 3 Answers to our Questions

DENVER, CO - MARCH 02: Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche scores against goaltender Alex Stalock #32 of the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center on March 2, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - MARCH 02: Mikko Rantanen #96 of the Colorado Avalanche scores against goaltender Alex Stalock #32 of the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center on March 2, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

In the Colorado Avalanche’s overtime victory over the (hated) Minnesota Wild, we got some answers to important questions leading into the regular season.

The Colorado Avalanche beat the Minnesota Wild last night in overtime. Granted, the game shouldn’t have gone into overtime as the Avs were leading 3-1 midway through the third period, but let’s not focus on that except to say we all still hate Nino Niederreiter here in Avs Nation.

Anyway, the Avalanche got some secondary scoring until overtime, which is when top-liner Mikko Rantanen, beat former Avs goalie (for all of three games, though two were in the playoffs) Andrew Hammond. The Hammburglar tried to steal the goal, but Rants wasn’t having it:

Side note, Rantanen has been really balanced. I have yet to see him fall down in practice. Our captain, on the other hand, is having a little trouble in that department. Note how Gabriel Landeskog gives Rantanen a little encouraging hug before the goal is called good, though.

Anyway, with last night’s win in the penultimate preseason game, we’re a little closer to having some important questions answered. Let’s look at what we learned.

Who Will Earn the Final Roster Slots?

We don’t know this quite yet. And we won’t know for sure until opening night who exactly makes the roster and as part of what line configuration or defensive pairing. At the time of writing, the team hadn’t made any more cuts, so they were still carrying a roster of 29 players. They need to get that down to 23 before opening night.

There are some injured players included in that number, notably Conor Timmins and Anton Lindholm. Timmins will almost certainly go on IR, as might Lindholm. The Avalanche can also choose to put Sven Andrighetto on IR since he was injured in the last Dallas Stars game and is expected to miss two to four weeks.

By my estimation, the following players are fighting for a roster spot/to stay in Denver:

From what I’ve seen thus far, Bourque and Toninato should stay in Denver, though they might be 13th and 14th forwards. Kamenev and then O’Connor are probably the next in line.

Even with the injury to Lindholm, I don’t think the prognosis is good for Alt. The Avalanche already have seven NHL-ready defensemen ahead of him, and coach Jared Bednar’s habit has been to keep seven defensemen, not eight.

How Will Lines Start to Form?

The top line is set with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. (I believe so is the top pairing of Erik Johnson with Sam Girard, which I love more than I expected.)

After last night’s game, Tyson Jost and Alexander Kerfoot have shown enough chemistry with each other to comprise the second line. Colin Wilson looked good with them, so I think he’ll get the start on the second line.

Beyond that, it’s hard to say. Third and fourth lines are notoriously fluid with teams. I think we’ll learn more with the final preseason game of the season.

Side note: Tyson Jost scored against the Wild. He does so love to score on Minny.

How Will Specialty Teams Shake Out?

Barring the big oops that was the game-tying goal, a short-handed tally (I hate Jason Zucker), special teams looked good last night. The Colorado Avalanche scored two power play goals.

One came from newbie Matt Calvert:

And the second was Rantanen’s game-winner in overtime.

What’s more, while the Avs did allow that shortie, they successfully killed off two penalties. Indeed, I applaud them that they only took the two penalties while Minnesota earned six. Way to show some control over your emotions, boys.

Next. 3 Great Answers Against VGK. dark

The Colorado Avalanche’s final preseason game takes place tomorrow in Dallas against the Stars. After that, the team has a three-day hiatus before opening night against the Wild again at the Pepsi Center.