Wednesday night will be a matchup between two of the top five teams in the Western Conference when the Colorado Avalanche host the Vancouver Canucks, but all eyes will really be on two players.
Through the first quarter of the season, both young defensemen are on pace for well over 100 points, and currently lead their respective teams in scoring.
With three straight games with three assists, Makar joined the likes of Paul Coffey, Ray Bourque, and Roman Josi as the only defensemen in NHL history to pull off such an impressive run. At the other end of the ice, with Vancouver off to an extremely impressive start, all eyes have been on Hughes, who was the first player in the NHL to hit 30 points, and is deserving of all the praise he’s been getting.
As usual, Makar didn’t really want to make it about himself, but had high praise for Hughes.
“He’s off to a completely solid start,” Makar said. “It’s fun to watch. He’s such a dynamic player and he definitely does a lot for that team. He’s the driving force, is what it seems like.”
Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar was asked about the similarities and differences between the two players ahead of Wednesday night’s matchup.
“There’s a lot of similarities but I also think there’s some differences in their game,” he said. “Elite skaters, both of them. Really able to challenge forecheckers, guys defending them one-on-one and create space. And then it’s the decision making after, that’s one of the big similarities for me. They both can shoot to score, they both could distribute the puck after they beat a guy one-on-one. They’re never really just going to give it up to you just because you go at them and try to check them…in reality, that’s the strength of both of their games.”
Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet doesn’t blame fans for being excited about the matchup.
“You’re playing against Cale Makar,” Tocchet said. “Him and Hughes, imagine watching those two play tonight?”
The Avalanche are coming off a difficult loss on Monday night against the Predators. They were one minute away from heading home with two points. Instead, they left empty handed.
How do you turn the page on a game like that?
“That’s a hard one to get over because there’s shock, frustration,” Bednar said. “Even though it wasn’t our best performance, we’re in a position to grab points out of Nashville and sometimes you need to do that. You’re not always going to be at your best, and we didn’t, so kind of frustrating. Regardless of had we come out of there with two, and won the game 3-2 and grab a couple of points, you still got to turn the page, especially when you’re going to face a team like Vancouver.”
Other News And Notes
- Alexandar Georgiev will start again for the Avalanche. Vancouver held an optional skate, so their starter isn’t confirmed, but I’d expect Thatcher Demko in net for them.
- Sam Girard will not play tonight, and is currently away from the team for personal reasons. Jared Bednar did not have an update on when he might return to the team.
- Caleb Jones has gotten a consistent run here with the team, and Bednar is happy with how he’s performed.
- “I think he’s been playing great,” Bednar said. “If you watch the games, there’s no big, major mistakes that are leading to great scoring chances against…so I see him as a 200 foot guy that can both defend and still help.”
- Jonathan Drouin was practicing on the top powerplay unit this morning in place of Ryan Johansen, who went to unit two. They’ve alternated at times over the last week or so, so don’t be surprised if both get opportunities.