After beating the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 in Denver on Tuesday night, the Colorado Avalanche will be hoping to build momentum this week during a three game road trip. Currently sitting in last place in the Central Division, the Avalanche will leave the Pepsi Center to play the Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, and Columbus Blue Jackets this week before heading back to Denver to play Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers next Wednesday. The Avs however, are still without leading goal scorer Matt Duchene. He has missed the past two games with “concussion-like symptoms” after taking a hit on Friday night from Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets (NBC.com).
Matt Duchene day-to-day with concussion-like symptoms https://t.co/o70CFCF1aY
Colorado Avalanche Road Trip is a Time to Build Momentum
The first stop for the Avalanche will be the American Airlines Arena in Dallas on Thursday night. Dallas is currently sitting in 5th place in the Central Division with 17 points in 17 games, and will be hungry for a victory after losing their last two games in overtime. The Stars are 26th in the league on the penalty kill, and goaltender Antti Niemi has struggled this year, going into Thursday’s game with an .898 save percentage, and averaging 3.44 goals against per game. With that in mind, the Avalanche forwards will be salivating every time Dallas gets sent to the sin bin.
Player to Watch: Tyler Seguin
Tyler Seguin has been on fire this year, putting up 20 points in 17 games which is tied with Steven Stamkos for third in the league. Seguin has scored 12 points in his last 8 games, and will be hoping get the Stars’ offense going again after the team only recorded one goal against the Devils on Tuesday.
Prediction: 3-2 Colorado
The Avalanche will head north to St. Paul, Minnesota on Saturday evening to take on the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are 8-6-1 this season. They sit in 4th place in the Central Division with 17 points in 15 games. The Wild are 4-2 at home this season. They also have a +12 goal differential, which is the best in the Central Division. This game has the potential to be very low scoring, due to the fact that the Wild haven’t scored more than two goals in their last three games. Their penalty kill ranks fourth in the league, and goaltender Devan Dubnyk has been a brick wall this season.
Player to Watch: Devan Dubnyk
Devan Dubnyk has been on fire this season. In 12 games, he’s put up a .948 save percentage, which is tied with Carey Price for best in the league. On top of that, his 1.60 Goals against average puts him in second place behind Tuuka Rask of the Bruins. The Avalanche will have a tough time scoring against the Wild, especially if Matt Duchene isn’t back from injury yet.
Prediction: 2-1 Minnesota
To finish off their three game road trip, the Avalanche will head to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets are 8-4-2 this season. They sit in 5th place in the Metropolitan Division with 18 points in 14 games. Colorado will have their hands full with Columbus who who rank in the top ten in the league in goals per game (2nd), goals against per game (8th), power play % (1st), and penalty kill % (10th).
Player to Watch: Zach Werenski
The 19-year-old rookie has arrived as advertised this year. The 8th overall pick in the 2015 draft has 13 points in his first 14 NHL games, putting him one point behind Erik Karlsson, and Brent Burns. Keep in mind Burns and Karlsson have played 16 games, Kevin Shattenkirk has played 17 games, and Werenski has only played 14 games this season.
Prediction: 4-2 Colorado