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Continuing on the marathon schedule for the Colorado Avalanche, they played their third game of the week against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes with two more to go before the holiday break. Missed opportunities caught up to the Avalanche as they drop this game with a 3-1 final score in which they were leading until the final three minutes.

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The Game
On the second night of a back-to-back the Avalanche looked like it as they were a bit lethargic through the first period but held off Carolina and their 16 shots on goal. Energy levels picked up in the second period as the teams traded power plays but nothing found the back of the net. The Avalanche even had 21 seconds of a 5-on-3 but the best chance of the game at that point was a Nathan MacKinnon shot which went off the post and in behind goaltender James Reimer and then fell into his pants. Still, the score was goose eggs through two periods.

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Finally on their sixth power play the Avalanche broke through the stalemate with a tally from MacKinnon at 4:05 into the third period. Initially it looked like Gabe Landeskog tipped the puck in front of the net but the goal currently stands as MacKinnon’s.

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The two points looked to be in the bag as the Avalanche ground through the rest of the third period until at 17:03 Andrei Svechnikov drove through to the front of the net and deflected the puck past Philipp Grubauer. To make matters worse just a minute later Jaccob Slavin caught the Avalanche in poor rush coverage and fired the winning goal into the net. Sebastian Aho added an empty net goal with just second left for the third marker.

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Takeaways
Erik Johnson returned from his 11 game injury absence in this contest. He was paired mostly with Anton Lindholm and played just over 20 minutes including penalty kill and second unit power play time. He looked like he was moving well and included a couple “condor” special rushes in what made a positive return for Johnson.
On the flip side, Nikita Zadorov did not play the entire third period and just over 10 minutes total in what coach Bednar described as “coaching decision”. Adding to the curiosity Zadorov was the only Avalanche with over 50% Corsi for on the evening and did not take any penalties.

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Blowing the lead will be the focus of this game outcome but counting on grabbing a victory with only one goal scored is a faulty plan at best. Goaltending was good on both sides but there were many opportunities missed to put this game away and slumping to 17th in the league with a 18.6% conversion rate on the power play is not good enough for a team with the offensive talent and even strength scoring they provide.

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS – DECEMBER 18: Ian Cole #28 of the Colorado Avalanche (R) is congratulated by Gabriel Landeskog #92 after scoring a first period goal at the United Center on December 18, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Who: Carolina Hurricanes (21-11-2) @ Colorado Avalanche (22-9-3)
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, CO
Puck drop: 7:00 pm MT
Watch: Altitude

IT’S STAR WARS NIGHT!!!

Colorado Avalanche

@Avalanche
May The Force be with us tonight.#GoAvsGo

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And I love the fanart the Avalanche social media account is putting out on Twitter so I’m just going to share it all here.

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Colorado Avalanche

@Avalanche
The Saga Continues#GoAvsGo

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Colorado Avalanche

@Avalanche
The Force Is Strong#GoAvsGo

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The Carolina Hurricanes had their own Star Wars Night a week ago, but with all the black and red branding, they looked more like Sith than a “Bunch of Jedi”.

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Carolina Hurricanes

@Canes
Fulfill your destiny. #WallpaperWednesday

Join us for Star Wars Night » https://n.carhur.com/2suaqwm

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Colorado Avalanche
The Avs won last night, 4-1 over the Chicago Blackhawks. Sam Girard got fined for a late hit on Alex DeBrincat in the game, but the Department of Player Safety didn’t give him a suspension of any kind. He’s good to go for tonight.

NHL Player Safety

@NHLPlayerSafety
Colorado’s Samuel Girard has been fined $1,957.89, the maximum allowable under the CBA, for Boarding Chicago’s Alex DeBrincat.

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Brady Trettenero
@BradyTrett
Sam Girard lays out Alex DeBrincat

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Forwards
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen
Joonas Donskoi – Nazem Kadri – Andre Burakovsky
Valeri Nichushkin – P.E. Bellemare – Matt Calvert
Matt Nieto – Tyson Jost – J.T. Compher

Defense
Samuel Girard – Nikita Zadorov
Mark Barberio – Ian Cole
Ryan Graves – Calle Rosen

Carolina Hurricanes
Forwards
Andrei Svechnikov – Jordan Staal – Warren Foegele
Nino Niederreiter – Sebastian Aho – Teuvo Teravainen
Ryan Dzingel – Lucas Wallmark – Martin Necas
Brock McGinn – Jordan Martinook – Brian Gibbons

Defense
Jaccob Slavin – Dougie Hamilton
Joel Edmundson – Brett Pesce
Jake Gardiner – Trevor van Riemsdyk

The Goalies
James Reimer (.924 sv%) is expected to get the start in net tonight for Carolina, with Petr Mrazek serving as backup after winning 6-3 the night before over the Winnipeg Jets. For the Avalanche, Pavel Francouz played last night, so Philipp Grubauer (.912 sv%) is getting the net at home.

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Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov checked a Canadiens player into the boards in what some pundits are calling a slew-foot.

A scary incident happened early on during the Colorado Avalanche’s visit to the Montreal Canadiens in Bell Centre. Defenseman Nikita Zadorov checked forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi into the boards, and the center had to be helped off the ice.

Those are the clear-cut facts. The unknown is whether Zadorov is guilty of slew-footing Kotkaniemi, which would be the reason the forward fell so awkwardly.

Slew-footing is a little-called penalty in hockey. Here’s how the official NHL rule book describes the infraction:

“Slew-footing is the act of a player using his leg or foot to knock or kick an opponent’s feet from under him, or pushes an opponent’s upper body backward with an arm or elbow, and at the same time with a forward motion of his leg, knocks or kicks the opponent’s feet from under him, causing him to fall to violently to the ice.”

Well, that’s a run-on sentence if ever I saw one. However, that’s the definition the NHL has for slew-footing.

Here the league provides a video with examples of slew-footing, including ones that resulted in supplemental discipline:

Ok, that gives us a pretty good visual of what the rule book is talking about in terms of slew-footing. So, now let’s look at the play that involved Zadorov:

This is the Altitude feed. So, you hear color commentator Peter McNab explain the scary fall as a bigger man hitting a smaller one. Zadorov is 6-foot-6, 240 pounds, while Kasperi Kotkaniemi is 6-foot-2, 198 pounds.

In the TSN broadcast, the announcers call it “almost a little bit of a slew-foot.” No idea what the French broadcasters called it, but Montreal coach Claude Julien labeled it a dirty hit. And the official Yahoo Sports! twitter wondered aloud (ie. in a tweet) if that play would be considered a slew-foot.

Needless to say, all the Habs fans are calling it a slew-foot. However, the Sporting News reported the incident thus:

“There was speculation Zadorov swept Kotkaniemi’s feet out from under him, but a review of the video showed little to no evidence of that.”

How Kotkaniemi fell to the ice was very scary. He couldn’t get his shoulder under him, so his head and neck hit first before his shoulder. He was ruled out for the rest of the game, and he will not go on the Canadien’s upcoming road trip.

The scariness of the fall and resultant injury might catch the Department of Player Safety’s attention. But was it a classic slew-foot?

Zadorov didn’t get any penalty on the play, while slew-footing calls for a match penalty — not that officials don’t get calls wrong. One thing they got right was blowing the play dead as soon as it was obvious Kotkaniemi was hurt.

As far as I know, the DoPS hasn’t stated that it will be looking into Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov’s hit. I don’t know that I want to say it rises to the level of slew-footing. What’s your take — drop your comments below.

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Nazem Kadri is back in his old stomping grounds. The Avalanche forward will be making his return to the city that he spent the first ten year of his career and the province in which he’s lived his entire life.

A well-rested Colorado Avalanche team is in Toronto to take on a Maple Leafs team coming off of a very disappointing loss last night. The Avs arrived mid-day yesterday while the Leafs didn’t get home until quite late as they lost of the Philadelphia Flyers on the road less than 24 hours ago.

Having not played since Saturday when they beat the Chicago Blackhawks for the second night in a row, the Avalanche have had time to not only rest, but to heal. Matt Calvert is expected back in the lineup for the first time since he suffered a head injury after a scary play against Vancouver a couple weeks ago, while captain Gabriel Landeskog is on the road trip and could make his return as well.

Nasty Naz back in your area, about to cause mass hysteria pic.twitter.com/sbixcGHbsL

— Tom Hunter (@PuckDontLie) December 4, 2019
This game will also provide the potential for revenge as the Avs are looking to defeat the Leafs after falling 5-3 in Denver on Nov. 23.

Look who’s coming on the road with us!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/BW0zwL3G0H

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 3, 2019
Colorado Avalanche
It’s a revolving door of injuries with this team. Just as soon as some near return, more wounds are revealed. After a couple of practices as a full participant, Nathan MacKinnon could finally get Gabriel Landeskog back on his line. Landeskog flew with the team, and could re-join the lineup tonight. The top line could be fully reunited as Mikko Rantanen will also take the ice.

While Landy is a possibility, it sounds as though Matt Calvert is more of a certainty to be back in the lineup tonight. His high-speed forechecking will go a long way in putting pressure on what could be a tired Toronto lineup.

Head coach Jared Bednar revealed that Colin Wilson will undergo surgery for a lower body injury and is out indefinitely.

Welcome to #Avs morning skate where Andre Burakovsky and Gabriel Landeskog are in regular sweaters.

— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) December 4, 2019
This is shaping up to be an entirely different team from the group who fell to the Leafs just a couple of weeks ago. With the top line back together and everyone coming off a much needed break, a strong offense could appear in Toronto tonight.

But also:

#Avs first-team power-play unit is Joonas Donskoi, Nazem Kadri, Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen.

Both Andre Burakovsky and Gabriel Landeskog are still on ice but not participating in those drills.

Matt Calvert, however, is working with the PK unit.

— Ryan S. Clark (@ryan_s_clark) December 4, 2019
The fact that they’re sitting out PP reps on the game day skate suggests both Landy and Bura will sit out one more game.

Tonight’s game isn’t just a return for Kaadri, Calle Rosen is also making his return to Toronto after playing the last two seasons in the Leafs organization.

Updated Projected Lines

Joonas Donskoi – Nathan MacKinnon- Mikko Rantanen

Matt Calvert -Nazem Kadri- J.T. Compher

Valeri Nichushkin- P.E. Bellemare- Logan O’Connor

Matt Nieto – Tyson Jost – T.J. Tynan

Nikita Zadorov – Cale Makar

Samuel Girard – Calle Rosen

Ian Cole- Ryan Graves

Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs are currently tied with the Montreal Canadiens in the Atlantic Division with 30 points each. Since defeating Colorado, Toronto beat the Detroit Red Wings, split home-and-home games against the Buffalo Sabres, and fell to the Flyers. The team is 4-2 since replacing Mike Babcock, head coach Sheldon Keefe.

Their lone goal last night came from Travis Dermott. It was his third of the season and his fifth point of the season. Auston Matthews leads the team in goals with 16 and points with 31. Morgan Rielly has 17 assists which is the most on the team. Those top leaders pose the biggest threat to the Avs tonight, especially since Matthews recorded a goal and an assist in Denver recently.

The Leafs are getting healthy themselves as they expect Mitch Marner to return to the lineup tonight after missing the last month with a high ankle sprain.

Projected Lines

Andreas Johnsson – Auston Matthews – William Nylander

Ilya Mikheyev – John Tavares – Mitch Marner (probably)

Zach Hyman – Alexander Kerfoot – Kasperi Kapanen

Pierre Engvall – Frederik Gauthier – Dmytro Timashov

Morgan Rielly – Cody Ceci

Travis Dermott – Tyson Barrie

Jake Muzzin – Justin Holl

Goalies
After being hung out to dry by his teammates in a 6-1 loss last night, Frederik Andersen is expected to get a rest against the Avs. That means Michael Hutchinson and his 0-5-1 record will face the highest scoring team in the Western Conference. Hutchinson has had the tough assignment of playing on the second night of back to backs but even in that situation, his .876 sv% is something Toronto should be worried about.

Except:

Michael Hutchinson skating this morning for #Leafs. Frederik Andersen is not.

That would suggest that, perhaps, Andersen is going to start tonight vs. Avs after last night’s debacle in Philly. Stayed tuned for Sheldon Keefe’s update around 4:45 p.m.

— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) December 4, 2019
Philipp Grubauer is likely going to get the nod tonight. He played the first quarter against the Leafs last time, but allowed four goals and was pulled in favor of Pavel Francouz. However, he’s well-rested and will be looking to shut down what appears to be a stagnating Toronto offense tonight.

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On a snowy sloppy night before Thanksgiving the Colorado Avalanche hosted the Edmonton Oilers in hopes of avenging the 6-2 loss they suffered in Edmonton just two weeks ago. While reinforcements from the injured list are forthcoming they were not available in this match and even added another as Erik Johnson was forced out of the lineup to deal with a lower body ailment.

In a game that was perhaps a little more difficult than it needed to be the Avalanche did indeed get that revenge and place back in the win column with a 4-1 victory in a game which saw scoring from multiple depth players.

The Game:
Just as many had predicted it was Jujhar Khaira who got the Oilers on the board first at 13:17 in the opening frame after outworking Ian Cole along the boards and then walking through the rest of the burgundy sweaters parked around the net. Otherwise the first period was fairly even with the Avalanche leading in shots on goal 14-12 and one ineffective power play.

The Avalanche had a huge opportunity at the start of the second period when Adam Larsson was called for a major elbowing penalty on T.J. Tynan and was awarded five minutes on the man advantage. To make matters even more critical, Leon Draisaitl took a penalty on the kill giving the Avalanche a full two minute 5-on-3, which they did not convert on either.

After a chance to turn the game around slipped away it was Nazem Kadri who took a feed from Joonas Donskoi in the neutral zone and converted to finally get the Avalanche on the board and even the score at one at 10:50. And that’s how the period ended despite a massive 19-5 shot advantage in that frame for the Avalanche.

The dam finally broke early in the third period at 3:05 when Matt Nieto tipped a perfect pass from Nathan MacKinnon past Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen. That was only the beginning of a three goal barrage in just over two and a half minutes. MacKinnon got a goal of his own on a fluke play where Koskinen though he had possession of the puck and MacKinnon swatted it in the back of the net.

Not to be left out of the party Logan O’Connor decided this would be the perfect evening to score his first NHL goal and added an extra insurance marker when he took a slick behind the net feed from Val Nichuskin and deposited a backhand shot over Koskinen’s glove.

Physicality picked up late in the game but the Avalanche ran away with the game at the end outshooting Edmonton 50-20 by the final horn. It was a full team effort and they were rewarded for sticking with it and battling through the early game adversity.

Takeaways:
With every win comes a sacrifice and this evening’s casualty was Andre Burakovsky who did not play in the third period. Bednar indicated after the game that it was an upper body injury with no further information. It’s unclear what exactly happened to Burakovsky but he did take a hard spill behind the net.

Calle Rosen played his first game for the Avalanche after his recall from the Colorado Eagles on Sunday. The defense sorely needed a shakeup but the aforementioned Erik Johnson injury was the impetus for the change. Rosen ended up getting a secondary assist on the Kadri goal and two shots on goal in 15:43 of ice time paired mostly with Sam Girard. He had a few turnovers in the first period but settled in especially after recording the assist. A good first game to build on for the Swede.

The much maligned defense held both Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl off the scoresheet entirely in this meeting. Only giving the Oilers one power play was a help as well but each defenseman handled their duties and did not give the Oilers much to work with.

Upcoming:
A home-and-home meeting with the Chicago Blackhawks starting at 2pm MT on Friday, November 29th in Chicago and then back home for the rematch at 7pm on Saturday.

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Colorado Avalanche star winger Mikko Rantanen will soon return to play. What can we expect when he’s back in the lineup?
The Colorado Avalanche are finally going to get their star winger back. Mikko Rantanen has been skating with the team in a regular jersey. He’s not going to play against the Edmonton Oilers. However, he might be back as soon as the home-and-home series against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Rantanen was injured when his skate blade seemed to catch on the ice and he twisted his leg. The incident happened against the St. Louis Blues on October 21, five weeks ago. He’s missed 14 games in that time.

Rantanen started skating on his own on November 11. He’s only been taking part in team sessions the last few times. Mikko said of the current situation:

“[I] feel better every day. Just need a couple more days with the team and practices…You don’t really skate for three weeks, it takes a while to get back in shape.”

Well, Mikko Rantanen’s imminent return is good news indeed. The Avs have been without about a third of their opening night roster off and on since Rantanen’s injury.

So, what can we expect when Rantanen returns? Are all of the Colorado Avalanche’s woes suddenly going to disappear?

Of course not. However, we do know that we should expect a boost in offense once the big Finn rejoins the team. When he got injured, he was second on the team for scoring with 12 points (5 goals, 7 assists). He’s now fallen to #6 on the team, but that’s still pretty impressive for a player who’s only played nine games.

Today in practice, the lines were this way:

Donskoi-MacKinnon-Burakovsky

Jost-Kadri-Compher

Nieto-Bellemare-Nichushkin

O’Connor-Kamenev-Rantanen/Tynan

Naturally, we expect Rantanen to jump to the top line once he actually returns. So, what will that top line look like? I reckoned in yesterday’s post that Joonas Donskoi would be the one to drop down instead of Andre Burakovsky. For one, Burakovsky’s a natural left wing. For another, he’s found chemistry with Nathan MacKinnon.

So, as I also opined in yesterday’s post, I expect Tyson Jost to be the one to drop out of the second line to make room for Joonas Donskoi. And I’m already steeling myself to watch him drop all the way to the fourth line.

Anyway, as far as which forward will be the healthy scratch or sent back to Loveland, I’m anticipating T.J. Tynan. His tenure here was odd to begin with — he’s a career AHLer. And the Eagles need him. Logan O’Connor, on the other hand, is a prospect who has earned his shot.

Anyway, Rantanen should also return to the first power play unit, and, boy, is that going to be a relief. He already has a power play goal on the year. Last year he had 16 — and a total of 33 power play points.

The Colorado Avalanche need that boost. Right now they’re #11 in the NHL for power play conversion with 19.8%, which isn’t overly bad. However, getting some more power play goals will help the team climb back up in the standings.

Because the Avalanche have dropped out of the Central Division race as of right now. They’re currently in the first wild card spot, though with two games in hand. Yes, I know it’s just the quarter-season mark, but, you know, it’s already the quarter-season mark.

Anyway, Mikko Rantanen is taking these extra couple practices to ensure he’s game ready. I think the Colorado Avalanche and all of us in Avs Nation are hoping he hits the ground running — or the ice skating, in this case.

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Colorado Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin earned a Gordie Howe Hat Trick in a decisive 7-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.
The Colorado Avalanche picked up forward Valeri Nichushkin over the summer on an extremely unlikely “show me” contract. A lot of fans, myself included, were angry. The Dallas Stars had bought him out because he couldn’t score.

Well, they must be pretty angry now. Tonight, Nichushkin scored his seventh goal of the season. What’s more, said goal completed a Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

The first part of the GHHT was a fight. It wasn’t a very good fight. While I opined in a previous post that Nichushkin could always try his hand at being an enforcer if he couldn’t score, Nuke really isn’t a fighter.

The Avs were up 3-1, so I don’t know that they needed the fight right there. However, Deryk Engelland wanted to go, and Nichushkin answered the call.

The second part of the GHHT was an assist. It came on a goal by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare — his second of the game, actually. The goal occurred late in the second period:

That marked Nichushkin’s sixth assist of the season.

Once Nuke had the fight and the assist under his belt, everyone was just watching for the goal to complete the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

It didn’t come until late in the third period with the team already up 6-3. It was a really weird play — actually, it’s hilarious. A clearing attempt hit him in the visor, and he just kind of jerked his head in reaction. And the puck went in the net.

Boy, imagine going 91 games without scoring, and now the dang puck is just careening in all the time, even when you don’t mean it to.

Random Tidbits
Our captain, Gabriel Landeskog, skated in his 600th NHL game ever, all with the Colorado Avalanche. Can you believe it? I can remember when he got drafted and was named captain just a year later. Man, how time flies:
Oh, how time flies.

How has it been 600 games already!

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 24, 2019

He looks so young in his rookie picture!

Nikita Zadorov when asked how the third period tonight was different than the last two games: “Yeah, we didn’t lose.” Oh, Z.
Poor Andre Burakovsy took not one but two shots to the face. The first chipped his tooth.
“How do I look!?”

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 24, 2019

The second just made him bleed… again.

Bellemare has become a thorn in Vegas’ side. The former Knight scored two tonight against his old team. Last time the two met, he recorded a goal and two assists. You love to see it.
Final thought: The Colorado Avalanche were ruthless tonight. And you love to see that.

The Colorado Avalanche can now head into the break on a high note. They’ve answered the questions that came up in the last two games. Now they’re off for some Christmas cheer.

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The Colorado Avalanche will be playing the second of back to back games in Canada tonight against the Montreal Canadians. The Avs are riding a four-game winning streak after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs by a score of 3-1 on Wednesday night. Captain Gabriel Landeskog and forward Andre Burakovsky will potentially make their return to the lineup.

COLORADO AVALANCHE
The Avs are undoubtedly one of the hottest teams in the NHL despite being without numerous elite players for a considerable amount of time. Colorado still holds second place in the Central Division. Head Coach Jared Bednar mentioned that the lineup would likely see the return of Captain Gabriel Landeskog and forward Andre Burakovsky for tonight’s game in an interview before the win over Toronto. Their arrival would only bolster an already thriving squad.

Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen hasn’t skipped a beat since his return to the lineup, scoring a goal and four assists in his first two games back. He and Nathan MacKinnon are back to their old ways, but will we see the return of the “Top Line.”

FORWARDS (PREDICTION)
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan MacKinnon – Mikko Rantanen

Joonas Donskoi – Nazem Kadri – Andre Burakovsky

J.T. Compher – Tyson Jost – Matt Nieto

Matt Calvert – Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare – Valeri Nichushkin

DEFENSE
Ryan Graves – Cale Makar

Samuel Girard – Nikita Zadorov

Ian Cole – Calle Rosen

MONTREAL CANADIANS
The Habs are experiencing some turbulence during their holiday season, only winning two of their last ten games.

All eyes have been on GM Marc Bergevin throughout the Canadien’s struggles. Many fans are calling for him to make a move with their remaining nine million dollars in cap space. Many fans have all but given up hope on the Bergevin.

The Habs have the looks of a young team with some promise. They do, however, seem to be lacking some foundational pieces.

FORWARDS
Tomas Tatar – Phillip Danault – Brendan Gallagher

Nick Cousins – Max Domi – Nick Suzuki

Artturi Lehkonen- Jesperi Kotkaniemi – Joel Armia

Matthew Peca – Nate Thompson – Jordan Weal

DEFENDERS
Ben Chiarot – Shea Weber

Brett Kulak – Jeff Petry

Gustav Olofsson – Cale Fleury

GOALTENDING
The Avalanche will likely start back up goalie Pavel Francouz, seeing as Grubby had a thirty-eight save win just last night in Toronto. Franky has been a solid back up this year sporting a record of 5-2 with a GAA of 2.48 and a SV% of .924.

According to Elliot Freedman, Canadiens keeper Cayden Primeau was the first goalie off the ice in this mornings skate. This indicates he will be making his NHL debut against the west’s highest scoring club in the Colorado Avalanche.

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Colorado Avalanche rookie Cale Makar participated in the making of the NHL’s official Christmas video. And he turned out to be the star.

Colorado Avalanche superstar rookie, Cale Makar, has lamentably not returned to the lineup after a nasty hit from nasty Brad Marchand. However, for those of us who need our Cale fix — and who among us in Avs Nation does not — we have a new Christmas video to enjoy.

The players in the video actually recorded it during the Media Day in September. So, props to them for even trying to get into the Christmas spirit a couple weeks after Labor Day.

Anyway, as you can see in the video below, the clip inexplicably starts with a Grinch character in the first player frame. No idea why.*

Now, as you can see once the clip gets to actual players that they not only had to sing a song — Jingle Bells — they had to do so without any music. I’m not sure of the reasoning behind that, but it could explain why so many of the players are flat.

We have to wait through the whole first two choruses before we even get a sneak peak at our prized rookie. However, we do get a smarmy Cam Atkinson looking to sell you a Cuisinart — or steal Josh Groban’s job.

Now, like I said, this video is supposed to be from Media Day. So, I’m not sure why some players are in their Media Day suits while others, such as Braydenn Schenn of the Blues and the Bruins duo (David Pastrnak and Jake Debrusk) are clearly in casual gear. Maybe it’s a hodge-podge of Media Day and other PR events.

Our Cale is wearing a suit, though, and judging by his persona just in singing “Oh,” Josh Groban has a lot more to fear from him than Atkinson. (A little appearance by former Av Matt Duchene. Eh? Eh?)

Now, going through some more of the video, a nice highlight is Washington Capitals star T.J. Oshie wearing a Santa hat. Like, where does he even come up with that? Does he just go around with a Santa hat in his pocket in case he needs to sing Jingle Bells?

(Matt Duchene again with the “hey.” He’s got personality, folks.)

Why is Jack Hughes wearing a beanie with his suit? Also, did Artemi Panarin‘s criticizing the political situation in Russia mean he can’t get hair cuts or hair products anymore?

Ok, let’s forget all the side notes and get to the meat of the video. Now, a few of the players really did try to inject some personality into the video while others… well, they’re best described as “deer in the headlights” when it comes to singing on camera.

Let’s now look at our prize rookie, who is wearing a suit and NO beanie. We get just that little “Oh” early on, but maybe that’s because the NHL PR team didn’t want Cale to steal the limelight from the other players.

Because our Cale Makar is the undisputed content king of the video, as evidenced by his grand finale in the video:

Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells

Happy Holidays from the NHL! pic.twitter.com/QPPgf1zBCC

— NHL (@NHL) December 20, 2019

What? Our Cale Makar can not only skate like a power ballerina (It’s a thing… I just made up) and puck handle and score and even lay big hits? Our Cale can look good in a suit and sing? Not only sing, put on a little show?

If you scroll through the comments in the tweet, you’ll see a Colorado Avalanche fan ask, “Is there anything Cale Makar cannot do?”

The answer is no, there is not.

*Sources tell me it’s Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane. My mistake.

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Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan Mackinnon was named the Central Division Captain for the 2020 All Star Game. This will be Mackinnon’s fourth All Star appearance and second as Central Division captain.
This week, the NHL announced the All Star game captains for the upcoming All Star game in St. Louis this January. And for the second year in a row, Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan Mackinnon was named Central Division Captain.

Our No. 1 overall pick.

Our back-to-back #NHLAllStar Central Division Captain.

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 22, 2019

Last season, the Colorado Avalanche sent Nathan Mackinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen to the 2019 All Star game in San Jose. The remaining All Star roster has not yet been announced for 2020, but it’s safe to say all of Avs nation is rooting for defenseman Cale Makar to be sent to this season’s All Star game with Nathan Mackinnon next month in St. Louis.

I am personally looking forward to the Skills Competition portion of the All Star weekend. For the last three years, Edmonton Oiler Conor McDavid has won the fastest skater competition. This year, I am hoping Mackinnon can finally outskate McDavid and walk away with the fastest skater title this season. Both McDavid and Mackinnon are exceptionally talented skaters, it’s a treat to have them compete against each other year after year.

Mackinnon was injured going into last season’s All Star weekend and did not play in the game or participate in the Skills Competition. Instead, Nate was the coach for the Central Division team. Coach Nate is hands down the best thing that came out of All Star weekend.

Also shout-out to Coach MacKinnon!#NHLAllStar #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/WPRQi01Q4X

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 27, 2019

Oh, and lets not forget about this beauty. Sock game STRONG!

SOCK GAME STRONG #NHLAllStar #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/iP709AS8Be

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) January 26, 2019

Even though the All Star game itself isn’t super competitive and mainly just for fun, it is always an awesome opportunity to see the league’s best playing in the same place and reminding us why hockey is the best sport out there.

Congratulations, Nate!! We are so proud of our Central Division Captain! Now go show McDavid who the fastest skater really is!

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CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Gabriel Landeskog could play for the Colorado Avalanche against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; SN, SN360, TVAS, ALT, NHL.TV).

The forward has missed the past 15 games with a lower-body injury sustained Oct. 26. He practiced in a no-contact jersey Monday.

“I haven’t put a timetable on his return yet,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “He’s kind of where we were with Mikko [Rantanen] last week. We want to get him in some practices, get him working with the guys, and then we’ll make a decision on which day we want him (to play). In communication with him, we’ll make a decision together on which day he’s going to play.”

The Avalanche won’t practice Tuesday before leaving for Toronto to start a three-game road trip. They play at the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday and at the Boston Bruins on Saturday.

Landeskog has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 11 games. He set NHL career highs last season for goals (34), assists (41) and points (75) in 73 games. He had eight points (three goals, five assists) in 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Landeskog redirects in goal
00:55 • October 20th, 2019

Rantanen, who returned Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks following a 16-game absence because of a lower-body injury, didn’t practice Monday, but Bednar said he expects Rantanen to play against the Maple Leafs.

“It’s a maintenance day,” Bednar said. “We’re putting him in the best possible situation to succeed, so if he needs a little time before we go to Toronto, then we’ll give it to him. We’ll just keep talking to him and seeing how he’s feeling and play it from there.”

Rantanen had a goal and three assists in 10:43 against the Blackhawks and didn’t play in the third period of the 7-3 victory.

“He tweaked his leg a little bit a couple of times and started to get a little tired, so I didn’t see a reason to bring him out for the third in a 7-2 game,” Bednar said Saturday. “He’ll be ready to go.”

Forward Matt Calvert, who has missed six games with a concussion sustained Nov. 16, said he hopes to play against Toronto. He practiced with contact Monday for the first time since he was injured when he was hit in the head by a shot by Vancouver Canucks forward Elias Pettersson. The shot also left him with a cut behind his ear that needed six stitches to close.

“You have to go through protocol and you have to have a bunch of good days in a row,” Calvert said. “This was my first test at practice. We have a travel day tomorrow, so as long as the response is good, I’m hoping to be in the lineup as soon as possible.”

Forward Nazem Kadri left practice after being hit in the face with a stick but should be available to play at Toronto.

Forward Andre Burakovsky (upper body) and defenseman Erik Johnson (lower body) didn’t practice. Bednar said Burakovsky might join the team at some point during the road trip but said Johnson won’t and is week to week. Forward Colin Wilson is scheduled to have surgery to repair a lower-body injury and will be out long term.

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Some Colorado Avalanche players who participated just in team workouts instead of full practice went on to do community outreach during their limited time off.

The Colorado Avalanche held an optional practice today. Only three players participated — Calle Rosen, Vladislav Kamenev, and Philipp Grubauer. Cale Makar skated before practice in no-contact red.

So, the day was more or less free for the Avs players. Well, three of them participated in community outreach programs on their own time. One was our captain, Gabriel Landeskog. His participation is no surprise because he’s active in community outreach.

Landeskog attended a Bell Dedication Ceremony at UCHealth which was from the team’s Hockey Fights Cancer Game. Survivors ring the bell after they’ve finished treatment. (My mom just rang the bell at a facility down in Pueblo. #F*ckCancer.)

Gabe Landeskog is at UCHealth for the Bell Dedication Ceremony from our #HockeyFightsCancer Game.

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 13, 2019

As part of his visit, he went around and talked with patients. He even went to visit some in the infusion center, which couldn’t have been easy.

Our patient visits start at the infusion center, where Gabe is spending some one-on-one time with cancer patients. #HockeyFightsCancer #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/cjTUYOwAgk

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 13, 2019

This year’s Hockey Fights Cancer was on November 23 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The players skated in lavender jerseys — Andre Burakovsky also wore a HFC cap backwards — which were then put up for auction to further raise funds for cancer survivors. Before the game, survivors who also happen to be hockey players skated out to join the starters for the National Anthems.

colorado avalanche
Part of fan participation included making cards of encouragement for people fighting cancer. Landeskog delivered those during his visit:

He is delivering encouragement cards made by fans at our #HockeyFightsCancer game. #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/lClKZ7gJmI

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 13, 2019

I can’t speak from experience, but the patients seem to really enjoy visits from the players. However, some patients are legitimately fans on their own terms:

Judy and her family are huge Avs fans. She is in cancer treatment for the second time and her name is featured twice on our UCHealth Dasher! #HockeyFightsCancer #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/j5Wcl36jNo

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 13, 2019

Gabe made a lot of visits during his time at UCHealth.

It was a great afternoon being able to put smiles on all these faces.

Thank you for letting us visit! #HockeyFightsCancer #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/Bh4uQFGVme

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 13, 2019

I like how the Colorado Avalanche social media team thanks the the patients. It puts the correct level of gravitas on the situation, in my opinion. (Also, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again — our captain is the best captain.)

Meanwhile, a less grave event featured a man named Graves — Ryan Graves and Tyson Jost attended a TeamFIT event, presented by Ardent Mills, which aims to promote exercise and other healthful behaviors in children.

Ryan Graves and Tyson Jost are joining local 5th Graders at one of our TeamFIT events, presented by Ardent Mills.#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/EADUJUu5f5

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 12, 2019

This particular Team FIT event was with a class of fifth-graders. Tyson Jost led the youngsters in some exercises:

Josty’s over here getting a whole nother workout in this afternoon. #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/rWNrhdRDPT

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 12, 2019

Feel the burn in the thighs!

No, really, Jost and the kids are getting a pretty good workout:

Seriously though, three rounds of burpees per group?

Let’s go, Josty!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/RHTYlTEGbi

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 12, 2019

That girl just to his left needs a little work on form, but, boy, has she got energy! Ah, to be a kid again.

Ryan Graves was a little lower-impact. He presided over a game of soccer:

Meanwhile Gravy’s just over here watching over a game of soccer #GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/9vg8ZkhPeQ

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 12, 2019

Obligatory comment: Ryan Graves is so tall, which is heightened by his being around children.

For being so tall (6-foot-5), Graves is apparently bad at basketball:

Ryan Graves admits that his worst sport is probably basketball.#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/NpQPx75S08

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 12, 2019

I don’t know — he looks pretty good to me:

Another crossover today oooor is Gravy waiting for TeamFIT to start?#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/xk7NQPLtay

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 12, 2019

Anyway, at the end of the afternoon, Graves and Jost participated in a question and answer session with the children. Apparently one of the questions was what the players eat for breakfast:

Ending the afternoon answering a few questions like does it hurt to get hit (yes) and what do you eat for breakfast (three eggs and oatmeal).#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/goCY8y7UlU

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 13, 2019

I have to admit, that’s a pretty good question. Also, apparently the workout was quite invigorating — Jost appeared to have lost enough weight that he has to hold his pants up.

In the following video, Jost goes into more detail about what he likes to eat for breakfast — apparently an omelette with vegetables, including sweet potatoes, bread, and oatmeal:

What a fun afternoon at our TeamFIT event with Gravy and Josty!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/6Avx8Vud4r

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 13, 2019

Oh, to be a 21-year-old with the metabolism of a professional athlete.

Some final shots from the TeamFIT event:

Thanks to the students at Rocky Mountain Prep!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/QTomIYA4jG

— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) December 13, 2019

I know all teams participate in community outreach events. However, the Colorado Avalanche do so on a very regular basis. Even their AHL affiliates, the Colorado Eagles, get in on the fun:

The Avalanche players, like all professional hockey players, have precious little time during the season. Not counting optional off days like today, they get just four days off a month. I think it speaks to the character of the players who participate in such events during their dear free time.