It’ll be a reunion for Ryan Johansen tonight when the Avalanche head to Nashville to take on the Predators.
Johansen spent most of the last eight seasons with the Predators, and was dealt to the Avalanche this summer in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk. The Predators are currently retaining half of his salary, which is really the only reason the Avalanche were able to acquire him, so there should be a little motivation for the big center to perform well.
Speaking to the media this morning in Nashville, Johansen talked about returning to the place that he’ll likely call home once he retires from the NHL.
“It’s weird for sure, not going to lie,” Johansen said. “Coming into town, it felt like coming home, it’s been exciting, just trying to enjoy the moment so far and the time. My parents have come in, my girl is here, so it’s been nice.”
Johansen played the least among forwards at 5-on-5 in Saturday night’s victory over the Dallas Stars. That second line is still a work in progress, but with all the other lines clicking, they’ll be given time to gel.
After morning skate, Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said it’s a possibility that Josh Manson returns to the lineup against the Predators. He has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, but traveled with the team on the road trip. If he comes back in, I’d imagine Caleb Jones exits the lineup, although he’s performed very well in Manson’s absence.
Alexandar Georgiev will get the start in net for Colorado, while the Predators will start Jusse Saros. Normally one of the best goalies in the NHL, Saros is off to a rough start, as he sits with a save percentage of just .892. GM Barry Trotz actually called him out recently, stating they need more from him.
Nashville is led offensively by Filip Forsberg, who has 19 points in 16 games. They’re a team that lacks some depth up front. Their third leading scorer, Tommy Novak, is out with an injury, and they’re scratching their fifth leading scorer up front, Luke Evangelista.
With just 12 points this season, it’s been a tough start for the Predators, but could this be a trap game for the Avalanche? Coming off a big win against the top team in the Central, you never know when a team might have an emotional letdown. They’ve given up the first goal in two of their last three wins, so strong start would help.
Expected Colorado Avalanche Lines
Valeri Nichushkin – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Tomas Tatar – Ryan Johansen – Jonathan Drouin
Miles Wood – Ross Colton – Logan O’Connor
Andrew Cogliano – Fredrik Olofsson – Joel Kiviranta
Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Bowen Byram – Sam Girard
Jack Johnson – Josh Manson
Expected Nashville Predators Lineup, per Nashville Hockey Now
Forsberg – O’Reilly – Nyquist
Sherwood – Glass – Pärssinen
Foudy – Sissons – Trenin
Smith – Tomasino – McCarron
Josi – Fabbro
Lauzon – Carrier
Stastney – Barrie
Colorado Avalanche Power Play: 19%, 20th in NHL
Colorado Avalanche Penalty Kill: 85.9%, 5th in NHL
Nashville Predators Power Play: 21.2%, 13th in NHL
Nashville Predators Penalty Kill: 71.2%, 30th in NHL
How to Watch
TV: Altitude TV, ESPN+
Radio: 92.5 Altitude Radio
Game Time: 6:00 PM MST