Tonight in Winnipeg, the Colorado Avalanche are trying to rebound from a 4-1 loss to the Nashville Predators a few nights before against the other team at the top of the Centeral Division last year; the Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets have not played hockey in a week after a two-game exhibition against the Florida Panthers in Helsinki, Finland. They are now back in North America and ready to get back to games.
It’ll be hard to tell what version of the Jets the Avalanche will see. Will it be a fresh and well-coached squad from Canada? Or will the Jets show some rust trying to get to game-shape after a week off?
The Avs haven’t had a great time in Canada recently. Two entertaining, but tough, losses to Calgary and Vancouver last week leading to Wednesday’s loss to Nashville have all of a sudden seen the Avs lose three in a row (four if you include the Minnesota game from two weeks ago).
Has it really been 14 days since we last won a game? Jeez.
Not since the Wild game has the Avalanche out-shot their opponents. They have also given up more than 50 attempts and 20 scoring chances at even strength in each of their last three games. As a result, Semyon Varlamov and Philipp Grubauer have generally done well in-game to keep the Avs in the contest, but they simply haven’t been able to handle the week-long onslaught.
The defense will definitely need to improve back to their early season numbers of sub-40 attempts against if they’re going to win more games. This is by no means a magical plan, but it will help.
In terms of roster updates, Tyson Jost is slowly on the road to recovery from his head injury. He’s been a consistent participant in practices this week, and coach Bednar said there’s a chance he gets in tonight against the Jets, but it doesn’t seem too likely at the moment. A.J. Greer has been called up from the Colorado Eagles as another extra body on the roster, and might find himself playing tonight as a result of any last-minute injuries.
The Jets have spent the last week “recovering” from their trip to Finland by practicing and attending charity events around the community. I guess that’s okay.
Semyon Varlamov will get the start tonight. He’s been getting shelled in recent losses, but has still been able to sport a .934 save percentage in 10 starts. Clearly the hot hand over Grubauer at this point.
Connor Hellebuyck will get the net for the Jets on the other side of the rink. Hellebuyck is a much cooler .907 save percentage this year for the slow-to-start Jets. His 5-5-1 record is definitely off his pace from last year. But it’s still early.