Coming off a trio of losses to open the month, the Montreal Canadiens will hit the road for Colorado in hopes of finding an elusive February win.
Still sitting first in the Atlantic Division, the Ottawa Senators have slowly been gaining ground and now sit eight points back with four games in hand. Things are far from dire, but they aren’t quite as comfortable as they could be, and a game against the bottom-dwelling Avalanche may be just what the team needs to get back on track.
Of course, there is the possibility that tonight’s game may become Colorado’s fifteenth win of the season. Should that happen, there will be no end to the questions asked. For a contender going through a rough patch, an Avalanche game on the schedule should be a welcome sight - provided everything goes according to plan.
Tonight’s meeting may be overshadowed, though, by a pair of players the Avalanche may be looking to trade come the March 1st trade deadline. Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog are each considered potential options for the Avalanche, and with Marc Bergevin supposedly looking to make a run for the Cup this season, perhaps tonight will provide a look at one pr more of his targets.
How to watch
Puck drop: 9:00 PM EST / 6:00 PM PST
In Canada: Sportsnet East (English), RDS (French)
In the United States: ALT
Elsewhere: NHL.tv/NHL Gamecenter Live, NHL Center Ice
Tale of the Tape
|52.57||Score-Adjusted Corsi %||44.94|
|1.30||5v5 Goal Ratio||0.56|
Wins have been few and far between for the Avalanche this season, which makes it surprising that they enter this game with the possibility of stringing together a couple. A five-goal night gave Colorado a win on home-ice to snap a nine-game losing streak. To put that in perspective, the last time the Avs had won a game prior to Saturday night was a month ago yesterday.
Put simply, things couldn’t be going much worse in Colorado this season. A team that looked to be on the right track a couple of seasons ago has imploded, and now appears to be on the brink of starting over.
It seems doubtful that either of head coach Jared Bednar or GM Joe Sakic will return next season and, as noted earlier, they may even be without their current 24-year-old captain.
It would be naive to think the Avalanche are without their weapons, however. Historically bad though their season may be, there’s little question about the abilities of players like Duchene or Nathan MacKinnon - the latter of whom is currently on pace for his best NHL season statistically.
With no depth to speak of, however, the holes in the Avalanche lineup have been consistently exposed. Suffering from an inability to control the flow of play, the Avalanche sit at the bottom of the league in CF%, which helps to explain how the team features just four players with more than twenty points. The Habs, by comparison, boast nine.
The good news in Colorado, if there is any, is that there are strong pieces there to go into the future with. Tyson Barrie has developed into a legitimate top pairing defenceman, while rookie Mikko Rantanen has looked impressive.
Should the team receive a king’s ransom for Duchene or Landeskog, they should not lack the assets to put a very promising rebuild in motion. The depressing part of it is that this might have been a year for them to break out of the one they were already in rather than staring more years of mediocrity in the face.
The last time these teams met was in December, and the Habs played their most explosive game of the year, potting ten goals. While that shouldn’t necessarily be expected tonight, a win should absolutely be. Anything less and the alarm bells may start ringing.