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Avalanche Gameday: Johnson Returns, Beware Of The Kings




Last game, the Colorado Avalanche went with Sam Malinski on the blueline, giving Jack Johnson a night off to rest his nagging lower-body injury.

On Friday, it appears that’ll flip flop. Jack Johnson is back in the lineup, and although Jared Bednar wouldn’t confirm it’s Malinski leaving, it sure did seem that way.

However, don’t be surprised if the Avalanche rotate a little bit down the stretch, depending on the opponent.

“There’s always that possibility,” Bednar said.

At the other end of the rink will be the Los Angeles Kings, who are coming off a rough loss against Buffalo where they blew a lead. They have just two wins in 2024. After that loss, veteran Drew Doughty went viral for some of his comments about the team and how they’re playing.

The Avalanche know all about something like this. Earlier in the year, Devon Toews drew a lot of attention with what he said to the public after a loss. Colorado has really turned it around since then.

On Thursday, I asked Bednar if they have to be a little bit more aware of a team like this when something like that happens.

“No question. They’ve been in one for a little bit here, not getting the results that they want,” he said. “I’m digging into some of their stuff right now, and you know what? Their analytics and underlying numbers are much better than what their record’s been here recently. We know they’re a great team…the issue with their team right now is not what they’re giving up and what they’re producing for chances. They haven’t been shooting great. And then on the other side of it, they’re giving up more goals on less chances than what you would think. They’ve still been playing some good hockey.”

This is the last game before the Avalanche are off until Feb. 5 in New York. I’ll be along with the team for the first two games of that trip against the Rangers and Devils, and Bednar wants some of his guys to step back and take a break from the game.

“I want them to get away,” Bednar said. “Our guys are really disciplined in the way they take care of themselves off the ice, but I think they should get away for a little bit. Get refreshed mentally.”

Other News And Notes

  • Alexandar Georgiev will be in net again tonight for his 40th start of the season tonight. I talked to him yesterday about handling the workload with his body, and will have that up later.
  • After tonight’s game, the Avalanche won’t practice again until the morning of Feb. 4.
  • Cale Makar is NOT betting on himself to win the Skills Competition at the NHL All-Star game. He thinks either Nathan MacKinnon or Connor McDavid will pull out the win. With money on the line, it’s a little different this year.
    • “We’ll see how serious guys take it, because obviously there’s a lot on the line. It’s not a joke. So yeah, it’ll be interesting.”

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