Honda West rivals look to take a step toward supremacy.
Tonight the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights will meet for a west division showdown. The Avalanche are coming off a disappointing overtime defeat while Vegas looks to improve upon their 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. With both teams sitting at the top of the division, this sets up as the most crucial game and series of the season for both teams.
The Avalanche are just two points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights. A regulation win in tonight’s contest would put the Avs in a position to take the number one spot with another victory on Saturday. That number one spot in the West has gotten more valuable as the season has worn on. With more and more arenas allowing fans, a game seven at Ball Arena is a definite possibility. We will be watching playoff hockey before you know it as the Avalanche have twenty-five games to play in forty-six calendar days.
Bo Byram will be back in the lineup while Matt Calvert will sit for Logan O’Connor.
The Avalanche may have lost their last contest, but it had very little to do with their skaters’ performance. Colorado seemingly still hasn’t filled the backup goaltending role adequately. The Avalanche are 7-2-1 in their last ten, with all seven victories coming with Philipp Grubauer between the pipes.
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Brandon Saad – Nazem Kadri – Andre Burakovsky
Valeri Nichushkin – Tyson Jost – Joonas Donskoi
LOC – Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – JTC
Devon Toews – Cale Makar
Jacob MacDonald – Sam Girard
Ryan Graves – Bo Byram
Vegas Golden Knights
The Golden Knights have been one of the league’s best teams throughout this abridged regular season. They have seen the resurgence of goaltender Marc Andre Fleury and taken full advantage of that. Robin Lehner was the starter to begin the season, but after Lehner sustained an injury, Fleury got another crack and hasn’t looked back.
Vegas scored four unanswered goals in their win over the St. Louis Blues, getting goals from both Mark Stone and William Karlsson. Mark Stone is among the top ten point scorers in the NHL (38pts).
Alex Tuch – Chandler Stephenson – Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault – William Karlsson – Reilly Smith
Nicolas Roy – Thomas Nosek – Keegan Kolesar
William Carrier – Patrick Brown – Ryan Reeves
Alec Martinez – Shae Theodore
Brayden McNabb – Nick Holden
Nicolas Hague – Zach Whitecloud
The Avalanche will go with Philipp Grubauer in net tonight. Grubauer has been the hottest goaltender in the league, winning in his last seven starts. That seven-game streak also features three shutout victories. He comes in with the NHL’s best 1.71 GAA and a top-three save percentage (.930), Both of which put him among the top three goaltenders in the league.
Marc Andre Fleury will look to repeat his last performance against the Avalanche. Back in February, he blanked the Avalanche with a thirty-four save performance. He comes in with a 1.93 GAA, and a save percentage of .931.