Colorado Avalanche, 2-0-0, 4 points, 3rd Central, 3rd West
Columbus Blue Jackets, 1-1-0, 2 points, 6th Metro, 11th East
After laying an egg in their home opener, the Columbus Blue Jackets will look to put on a show in front of their home fans tonight as they host the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche have played well to open this season, defeating the Minnesota Wild by a score of 4-1 and the Philadelphia Flyers by a score of 5-2. This will be the first road test of the season for the Avalanche, but the team appears ready to make a push to return to the playoffs.
In depressing news, the Columbus Blue Jackets yesterday announced that Brandon Dubinsky will miss four to six weeks with a strained oblique reportedly sustained in the waning moments of practice. Which, well, that just sucks, Brandon Dubinsky was centering easily the best line on the club and truly looked to be rising to the challenge injuries and doubt had cast on him. Now, Dubinsky will have to rise again to the challenge when he returns.
Player to Watch
With Brandon Dubinsky out, the free agent acquisition is going to have to step forward and take on a bigger role with the club. Riley Nash has played minutes on the penalty kill as well as in the defense zone to open the season, but now he’s going to be expected to step in and center what has clearly been the Blue Jackets’ best line through two games.
Nash stepped forward for Boston last season amid injuries, registering 15-26-41 in 76 games played as he helped lead Boston to the playoffs. He will need to step forward again, as he searches for his first point with his new club, and take on a bigger role. The Blue Jackets need help as Dubinsky recovers from injury, and they will be looking for Riley Nash to shoulder a bigger load in the middle going forward.
There will be two familiar faces when the Blue Jackets take on the Avalanche tomorrow night. Matt Calvert, the longest tenured Blue Jacket at the time of his departure, will make his return to Nationwide Arena. According to Aaron Portzline of The Athletic, a video tribute is planned for early in the first period to welcome Calvert home. Look for videos of his game winner in Pittsburgh, the first playoff win in franchise history, to feature prominently.
Another face will be defenseman Ian Cole. Cole, acquired at the trade deadline last season, helped stabilize a blue line in flux and push the Blue Jackets into the playoffs (and Jack Johnson out of town). Cole was offered a contract with the Jackets, but Cole elected to take a contract with Colorado instead. Regrettably, the blue line is now in flux again without Cole here. Scott Harrington has returned to from injured reserve, however, and could make his season debut tonight.
Also making an appearance in Nationwide Arena is Philipp Grubauer. The Blue Jackets know Grubauer well, as he started both games that Columbus won in Washington before former head coach Barry Trotz switched back to Braden Holtby and the Capitals won four straight games to eliminate the Blue Jackets en route to winning the Stanley Cup. If Grubauer starts, look for the Blue Jackets to want to exact some small bit of revenge.
The Other Bench
Colorado has been scoring at a furious pace to open this season. The Avalanche were maybe ahead of schedule last year, but the additions of Calvert, Cole, and Philipp Grubauer could pay dividends with depth this season. The team also may have found a second line combo that could compliment one of the best first lines in hockey. From Mile High Hockey:
On Saturday night, the second line spent most of the game lining up against Philadelphia’s group of Jakub Voracek, Nolan Patrick and Oskar Lindbolm - and the Avs trio was flat out dominant. Colin Wilson led all forwards in the game with an even strength shot attempt +/- of +7 while Kerfoot and Jost were just behind him at +6. The Avs’ second unit was impressive in every facet of the game, and it showed on the score sheet.
They’re generating shots, driving possession and limiting the play of good players on the opposing team. Now all they have to do is be consistent with it as the season goes on.
Slowing down this high flying offense will be the key to victory tonight.
10/19/2018 COL @ CBJ
02/05/2019 CBJ @ COL
|4.50 (4th)||GPG||2.00 (23rd)|
|1.50 (5th)||GAPG||2.50 (12th)|
|28.6% (9th)||PP%||11.1% (22nd)|
|100.0% (5th)||PK%||75.0% (20th)|
|55.03% (8th)||EV Corsi %||51.05% (13th)|
|0.994 (18th)||EV PDO||0.949 (23rd)|
|Nathan Mackinnon, Colin Wilson, JT Compher 2||G Leader||Artemi Panarin, Cam Atkinson, Josh Anderson, Brandon Dubinsky 1|
|Erik Johnson, Adam Kerfoot 1||A Leader||Anthony Duclair, Aremti Panarin, Brandon Dubinsky, Markus Nutivaara, Nick Foligno, Pierre-Luc Dubois, David Savard 1|
|Nathan Mackinnon, Erik Johnson, Carl Soderberg 3||P Leader||Artemi Panarin, Brandon Dubinsky 2|
|JT Compher, Ian Cole 4||PIM Leader||Artemi Panarin, Gabriel Carlsson, Josh Anderson, Pierre-Luc Dubois 2|
|0-0-0||Home / Road||0-1-0|
|Gabriel Landeskog||Nathan Mackinnon||Mirko Rantanen|
|Alexander Kerfoot||Tyson Jost||Colin Wilson|
|Matthew Nieto||Carl Soderberg||Gabriel Bourque|
|Sheldon Dries||JT Compher||Matt Calvert|
|Samuel Girard||Erik Johnson|
|Ian Cole||Tyson Barrie|
|Nikita Zadorov||Mark Barberio|
|Artemi Panarin||Pierre-Luc Dubois||Cam Atkinson|
|Nick Foligno||Alexander Wennberg||Anthony Duclair|
|Boone Jenner||Riley Nash||Josh Anderson|
|Sonny Milano||Lukas Sedlak||Oliver Bjorkstrand|
|Zach Werenski||David Savard|
|Ryan Murray||Markus Nutivaara|
|Scott Harrington||Dean Kukan|