The Ottawa Senators are going from playing the bottom of the Western Conference to the top as they face the Colorado Avalanche tonight for their second and final meeting.
The Avalanche continue to play well despite missing key players – Cale Makar is having another Norris-worthy season, and Nathan MacKinnon leads the team in scoring by 19 points, recording an otherworldly 70 in 44 games. He had a four-goal, five point night in the Avs 6-4 victory back on December 21st. The Avalanche went 4/5 on the powerplay that night, which was Jacques Martin's second game in charge.
The Senators are hoping for a revenge game tonight with Mads Søgaard between the pipes to give Avs shooters a new goaltender to look at. Søgaard is having the best season of his career, recording a 0.920 save percentage in 16 games – good enough to rank eighth in the AHL.
Jacques Martin noted this morning that he'll be running with the same lineup he utilized during Saturday's win against the Sharks, with Mads Søgaard in net and Joonas Korpisalo backing up:
Josh Norris remains out, Jacob Bernard-Docker is a healthy scratch, and Shane Pinto will keep watch from the sidelines.
Jared Bednar's Colorado Avalanche will be without Valeri Nichushkin, as the Russian forward entered the NHL and NHLPA's Player Assistance Program. Here's what the Avs ran with yesterday night during their 4-3 loss to Montréal:
We expect potentially two changes tonight: a swap of goaltenders, with Ottawa likely seeing Justus Annunen instead of Alexandar Georgiev, and potentially the return of Miles Wood from injury. If Wood returns, expect fill-in right-winger Caleb Jones to be scratched, as he's usually a defenceman.
Thoughts for tonight:
- Colorado's injury list is lengthy: Gabriel Landeskog, Artturi Lehkonen, Bowen Byram, Pavel Francouz, and Ivan Prosvetov. Despite this, the Avs are one point behind the Jets for first in the Central and three points behind the Canucks for first place in the Western Conference.
- Their success is largely because their top-line, top defence pair, and powerplay are the NHL's best. Offseason signings Ross Colton (2C) and Jonathan Drouin (1LW) have played well in important roles, while Ryan Johansen (3C) and Jack Johnson (2LD) have disappointed.
- If the Senators stay out of the box, there's a chance they can take advantage of this over-worked group:
- Offseason signings Ross Colton (2C) and Jonathan Drouin (1LW) have played well in important roles, while Ryan Johansen (3C) and Jack Johnson (2LD) have disappointed.
- This is the first of four games this week, which means limited practice time despite the team's return home. Jacques Martin spoke to the media yesterday about what the team worked on in their nearly hour-long practice, and it included boxing out in 2-on-2 plays, defensive zone coverage, and special teams. They'll need all three to be sharp to give Mads Søgaard some support in his first game of the season and 22nd of his NHL career.
- I thought Rourke Chartier was noticeable in his return to the lineup. His trio with Joseph and Kubalik might get some looks against a slower bottom-six for the Avs.
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