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Avalanche @ Ducks: Time to Determine the Lineup

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The Avalanche are all but eliminated from the playoff hunt, and the Ducks' spot is all but locked up. All that's left is to try and figure out what Bruce Boudreau will do with his roster, especially in the crease.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks don't have anything to play for except the President's Trophy. That 13 point cushion in the division is very reassuring, so is going 10-4-0 in your last 14. The Avalanche have the faintest of playoff hopes, meaning they aren't technically mathematically eliminated. The Ducks need to avoid serious incidents and try to plan for the postseason.

Hopefully, the Ducks can ride the momentum from an OT win over the defending Cup champions to avoid a serious letdown, and pile up some more points. If the Ducks can pull away early, it will give Bruce the opportunity to tinker all he wants and find some combinations he wants.

Game Notes:

Sami Vatanen should be back. That's all anyone should care about.  It's hard to say who he will push out of the lineup, but he should be back tonight against an Avalanche team that will force the Ducks to move the puck up the ice a little faster.

We can also have another discussion about Bourdreau's disgust for having a clear cut  number one goalie, but that will only make us all sad.

Though Colorado is all but officially eliminated, they have been playing well of late, winning six of their last seven.  Unfortunately for Ducks fans (and Boudreau), that included a win over Calgary and the only loss was to the Kings, in regulation, no less.

In terms of Avalanche injuries, the two that you really need to know about are Nathan MacKinnon, out for the season with a foot injury and Erik Johnson, who hasn't played since Jan. 21 due to a knee injury, but is currently listed as day-to-day.

What Can We Learn From This Game?

We can learn what Boudreau is thinking about the defense. Someone is going to sit, probably Simon Despres, which is sad considering the chemistry he's shown with Cam Fowler. If it's Clayton Stoner, then maybe BB is showing he's willing to shelf Murray's contract mistakes.

The main thing to watch for is whether or not the Ducks have a let down after an emotional game against the Kings.

Fearless Prediction:

It's the return of Perry to prominence as he pots two tonight.

UPDATE:

These line combos and D pairs (plus Freddy starting), Per Curtis Zupke of NHL.com, may in fact be my ideal lineup.  Really excited to see how it goes.  -CK