The Colorado Avalanche hope to finish their preseason with a win over the Stars in Dallas. We’ll get some final preseason questions answered today.
The Colorado Avalanche conclude their preseason against the Stars this afternoon in Dallas. After today’s game, they’ll have three days before opening night on Thursday against the Minnesota Wild.
In Friday’s game, a 4-3 overtime win, the Avs came pretty close to icing an all-NHL roster. In fact, I’d say their top-nine played. I’d also say all six of their defensemen should expect to start opening night.
Today, we may see a few bubble players get their final chance to make the team. After today, the Avalanche have to maneuver six players to get down to the allowed 23 players. A couple of those players may be put on IR, but some are going to get the send-down (or up since Loveland is north of Denver).
So, let’s look at some of the big questions facing tonight’s game.
How to Enjoy the Game
Game time: September 28, 7:00 pm MT
TV Networks: *
Radio: Altitude Radio (AM 950)
Today’s game will not be televised, which is annoying. However, you can listen to Conor McGahey on Altitude Ration — this time, on AM.
Will the Top Line Get Going?
It’s just the preseason. Nobody is earning points — not the team, and not the players. However, it’s a little discouraging that the top line has not been dominant. We’ve seen the top line of Nathan MacKinnon centering Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog for two games. So far, only Rantanen has scored, though it was the game-winner in overtime against the Wild.
Secondary scoring is very important, and that’s something the Avalanche struggled with last season. So far, that secondary scoring has looked good. I’d feel a lot more confident, though, if the top line went into the regular season on a roll.
Like I said, I don’t even know if the top line will play today at the time of writing. However, coach Jared Bednar had remarked that he’d like to see the main roster players get three games each, and the top liners have only skated twice each.
To add a little filip to the situation, MacKinnon had a “maintenance day” yesterday in the inaugural Fan Fest. He skated before the practice… with injured players Conor Timmins and Anton Lindholm. I’m not saying he’s injured — we all hope he’s not injured. And if he needs a little break before the start of the regular season, that’s fine, too.
Will Semyon Varlamov Earn his Opening Night Start?
Though it hasn’t been announced, Semyon Varlamov should get the start today. He played two periods against the Vegas Golden Knights in the first preseason game and the full game against Dallas at home.
He didn’t look good. He allowed three goals on 24 shots against Vegas and three goals on 27 shots against Dallas. His save percentage was .875 and .889 respectively.
His co-number one goalie, Philipp Grubauer, started out rough. He allowed a brutal seven goals in 33 shots against the Wild in his Avalanche debut. However, he followed that up with a more solid 21 saves in 24 shots performance against the Wild at home.
It’s Varalamov’s spot to lose at this point.
Who Will Make the Cut?
This is it for bubble players and prospects. If they get to play tonight, this is their final chance to show they belong in the NHL right now and in the lineup on opening night.
Based on what I’ve seen so far, the players who have the most NHL experience are the ones who look most ready to stay in Denver and maybe even make the opening night roster.
I’d say Gabriel Bourque looks good to make the checking line with Carl Soderberg and Matthew Nieto. It’s either him or newbie Matt Calvert, and he might make the third line with J.T. Compher.
As far as potentially making the team rather than getting sent to Loveland, I’d say Dominic Toninato has the best chance. He might ride the pine, but that would probably feel better for now than playing with the Colorado Eagles.
Vladislav Kamenev is the main bubble player. He started out weak, but the coaching staff sees improvement in his play.
I don’t think Sheldon Dries, Logan O’Connor or Mark Alt will make the team out of camp this year. Competition is just too steep.
The Colorado Avalanche dropped a 3-1 decision at home against Dallas earlier on. Hopefully they pay back the Stars today.