This is it! After tonight, the Colorado Avalanche are officially done with the Seattle Kraken this season.
That is, unless they meet again in the playoffs. I know I’m ready for a break.
There are multiple things to watch for this evening. One, can the Avalanche actually find a way to score first against the Kraken? It’s now been nine straight meetings between these two teams where Seattle has scored the first goal. That feeds right into how they want to play, and it’s imperative that Colorado gets on the board first, especially since they need the confidence boost.
Two, who is playing? Based off what my good pal Jesse Montano saw today, it certainly sounds like Caleb Jones will come into the lineup. Joel Kiviranta is with the team, while Riley Tufte was sent back to the Colorado Eagles, so I expect him to play as well. Sam Malinski is also up with the Avalanche, and could very easily make his NHL debut against the Kraken. Both Sam Girard and Josh Manson missed yesterday’s practice, so they may be the one’s getting replaced.
The other option, and the one I would go with if it’s an actual option, is 7 defensemen, leaving MacDermid in the press box. The Kraken are too quick a team for the Avalanche to dress him, especially knowing how little he would play anyway.
But the big thing everyone will be watching is how Colorado responds after Saturday night. They were embarrassed on home ice, and their coach eviscerated them after the game. They responded well after getting blown out by Vegas, and will need to do the same tonight. If they don’t, there will be A LOT of questions.
Alexandar Georgiev will be back in net, and they absolutely need him to get it together.
Thoughts And Musings
I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts after the beatdown on Saturday night, so figured I’d put those in here. What is this team missing?
A 2C? Absolutely. Johansen has been okay on the powerplay, but at even strength, he’s not driving any play.
Depth scoring? 100%. Valeri Nichushkin has not chipped in enough, Drouin and Tatar have been massive disappointments, and while I like the new third line a lot, Colton is paid $4 million a year, and you need a little more productivity than what you’re getting.
Team defense? Definitely. There’s too much talent on that blueline for them to be giving up this many goals, and the forwards know what is needed in their own end. They just aren’t executing.
Goaltending? You betcha. Georgiev looks like he’s lost his confidence, and I haven’t seen enough of Prosvetov to really evaluate him one way or the other.
Leadership? Landeskog isn’t walking back through that door anytime soon.
Quite frankly, they’re missing a lot of things right now. You don’t go through a 2-5 stretch if everything is fine and dandy. But above all else, there’s one thing I think that desperately needs to re-appear, and it’s something they can control.
The swagger, and the confidence. This team, as of right now, doesn’t have any.
As much as people want changes, I don’t see anything big happening anytime soon. Maybe Patrick Kane, but it sounds like he’s leaning towards heading to the Eastern Conference. The guys in the locker room are going to have to figure this out.
That team two years ago had a ton of swagger. They knew they were really good, and they had to attitude to go with it. Is this years team as good as the Stanley Cup team? Probably not, but there are still really good players in that locker room. They just don’t seem like they’ve got that any confidence at the moment.
When MacKinnon said yesterday that the team was a little nervous in the third period, I was pretty surprised. That sounds like a team lacking confidence. It’s hard to win games if that’s the case.
It has to start with the top players. I think it’s fair to say the top players on the team have underachieved this year. They’re racking up points, but they haven’t been as dominant as you’d expect them to be. They’ve got to take over a game and ease a bit of the pressure that’s on the team right now.
Maybe it starts tonight, when the Avalanche take on the Kraken.
Expected Colorado Avalanche Lines
Jonathan Drouin – Nathan MacKinnon – Valeri Nichushkin
Tomas Tatar – Ryan Johansen – Mikko Rantanen
Miles Wood – Ross Colton – Logan O’Connor
Fredrik Olofsson – Joel Kiviranta
Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Bowen Byram – Sam Girard
Jack Johnson – Josh Manson
Expected Seattle Kraken Lineup
McCann – Beniers – Yamamoto
Schwartz – Wennberg – Kartye
Tovlanen – Gourde – Bjorkstrand
Winterton – Shore – Wright
Dunn – Larsson
Oleksiak – Borgen
Dumoulin – Schultz
Colorado Avalanche Power Play: 16.3%, 23rd in NHL
Colorado Avalanche Penalty Kill: 85.2%, 7th in NHL
Seattle Kraken Power Play: 26.7%, 7th in NHL
Seattle Kraken Penalty Kill: 72.1%, 27th in NHL
How to Watch
TV: Altitude TV, ESPN+
Radio: 92.5 Altitude Radio
Game Time: 8:00 PM MST