Colorado Avalanche: Excitement for the First Game of the Season

The Colorado Avalanche host the St. Louis Blues at the Ball Arena for the first game of the new season. Hockey is back!

Colorado Avalanche fans will finally have hockey to watch again! The team returns to the ice tonight for the first time since their second-round exit from the playoffs.

But we’re not going to focus on that. It’s a new season. and the team has a Cup-or-bust attitude going into tonight’s contest.

So, for the contest itself — it’s against the St. Louis Blues. All NHL teams are tough, and any can win on a given night. However, the Blues are probably the stiffest competition the Avs will face this season in the COVID-rule NHL that sees each team playing only within their division.

Needless to say, all Avs fans are excited about the team’s return. We didn’t have any preseason games, so tonight is literally the first time we get to see Colorado play.

Well, unfortunately, a lot of people will not be able to watch the game. According to the Denver Post, NBCSN will not air the game in Denver’s local market. Instead, Altitude TV will broadcast the games. Unfortunately, Altitude still doesn’t have a contract with either Comcast or Dish, so fans with those services will be unable to watch the game.

Well, there are workarounds that we all know about, of course, but local fans will have difficulty watching the games in an official capacity. Especially since there will be no fans in the building.

Let’s look at some keys for the game tonight.

Rust

As noted, the Avs didn’t have any preseason games. They, like all other teams, are going straight from training camp to the regular season. They haven’t played since the beginning of September, so four months. And they didn’t get their usual preseason to warm up.

Many fans clamor each year to eliminate the preseason and get right to business. We’ll see how that works out tonight. The victor is bound to be the team with less rust.

Health

The Colorado Avalanche are already without one of their core players. Defenseman Erik Johnson has been “unfit to play” since training camp began. In the new lingo of the NHL, there’s not way of knowing if he’s suffering from injury or illness.

That’s an inauspicious start for the team. Injuries have been their main downfall for two years running. It’s the primary reason they exited the playoffs in the second round last season. They’re a stacked team, but every team has its limits of how many injuries it can withstand.

Line Combinations

That brings us to line combinations. They’re starting out a little wonky:

Burakovsky-MacKinnon-Rantanen

Landeskog-Kadri-Saad

Nichushkin-Compher-Donskoi

Jost-Bellemare-Calvert

I don’t know why Landeskog is on the second line and Burakovsy on the first. Landeskog was so killer on the first line last season. And I never got the sense that Burakovsky found chemistry with MacKinnon.

Here are the defensive pairings:

Toews-Makar

Girard-Timmins

Graves-Cole

I’m not sure why Graves got demoted to the third pairing when he had such chemistry with Makar last season. I love seeing Timmins in the lineup, though. I really hope he gets the chance to strut his stuff.

Bowen Byram is a no-go for the first couple games because he’s still in quarantine after his performance at World Juniors.

The game starts at 8:30 PM MST. The Avalanche will hold a moment of silence to honor Pierre Lacroix, the Cup-winning GM who passed away recently.