If the Colorado Avalanche are going to get back on track against the Florida Panthers, they could use something, anything, from a center not named Nathan MacKinnon.
The last time a center not named Nathan MacKinnon scored was Dec. 29 against the St. Louis Blues, when Ryan Johansen backhanded a puck home in front of the net. With the Panthers likely to deploy Sasha Barkov to cover MacKinnon all night, the Avalanche will need one of the other three to step up in a big way.
If you recall, the last time these two teams met, it wasn’t all that close. Ivan Prosvetov started for the Avalanche, but the Panthers shelled him early, and the fourth goal was so unacceptable that Jared Bednar had to pull him immediately. That was the last game Prosvetov started, and he was recently sent to the Colorado Eagles. Alexandar Georgiev will be in net tonight for the Avalanche on his 28th birthday.
“He’s got to have a bounce-back game for us,” Jared Bednar said this morning. “Giving up that one early is deflating, and it was followed up by another couple goals against, not necessarily his fault, but team mistakes. We’re going to have to play a clean game tonight.”
The Panthers went to the Stanley Cup Final last season, and look like they could easily do that again. The Avalanche know they’ll need to be much better coming off three straight losses.
“There’s a lot of similiarities between Carolina and Florida,” Bednar said this morning. “Both teams are extremely hard to play against. Physical, fast, have a bunch of weapons that can score on the offensive side of it, and they defend really hard.”
A powerplay goal would be helpful for the Avalanche against a good Panthers team. Colorado is 0-for-12 coming out of the break with the man advantage, and it really has been a momentum killer for the team.
The Panthers are led offensively by Sam Reinhart, who picked up a hat trick the last time these two teams met. He’s currently second in the league with 38 goals. His 21 powerplay goals leads the NHL by a wide margin.
Sergei Bobrovsky, who Avalanche netminder Alexandar Georgiev believes is the best Russian goaltender of all-time to play in the NHL, will start in net for the Panthers.
Expected Colorado Avalanche Lines
Artturi Lehkonen – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Jonathan Drouin – Ross Colton – Logan O’Connor
Miles Wood – Ryan Johansen – Zach Parise
Andrew Cogliano – Fredrik Olofsson – Joel Kiviranta
Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Sam Girard – Josh Manson
Jack Johnson – Bowen Byram
Expected Florida Panthers Lineup
17 Evan Rodrigues // 16 Sasha Barkov// 13 Sam Reinhart
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 9 Sam Bennett // 19 Matthew Tkachuk
27 Eetu Luostarinen // 15 Anton Lundell // 21 Nick Cousins
12 Jonah Gadjovich // 82 Kevin Stenlund //94 Ryan Lomberg
42 Gus Forsling // 5 Aaron Ekblad
77 Niko Mikkola // 62 Brandon Montour
91 Oliver Ekman-Larsson // 7 Dmitry Kulikov
Colorado Avalanche Power Play: 24.1%, 9th in NHL
Colorado Avalanche Penalty Kill: 82.5%, 7th in NHL
Florida Panthers Power Play: 24%, 10th in NHL
Florida Panthers Penalty Kill: 82.6%, 6th in NHL
How to Watch
TV: ESPN+, Altitude TV
Radio: 92.5 Altitude Radio
Game Time: 4:00 PM MST