Date: Friday, February 21, 2020
Time: 7:00 PM Pacific
Location: Honda Center
TV: Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 830
Your Enemy: Mile High Hockey
At 34-18-7, the Colorado Avalanche find themselves among the top three teams in a competitive Central Division. The team’s main issue of late appears to be staying healthy, especially now that primary goaltender Philipp Grubauer and top-six winger Mikko Rantanen have recently suffered injuries. The Avs are also without the services of forwards Matt Calvert, Nazem Kadri, and Colin Wilson. Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks are 24-29-7 after Wednesday’s 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers.
Players to Watch
84 points! Nathan MacKinnon has nearly twice as many as the next Avalanche player. Rookie sensation Cale Makar leads all Colorado defensemen with 45 points, including 17 on the power play. On Anaheim’s side, Adam Henrique has scored three goals in as many games while leading the Ducks with 21 total markers. Jakob Silfverberg was held without a point against Florida but ended Monday’s contest in Calgary with a goal and an assist.
Keys to the Game
1. Shoot your shot.
Grubauer’s absence leaves head coach Jared Bednar with two options: Czech rookie Pavel Francouz or Hunter Miska, who has played 18 career minutes in the NHL. While Francouz is 29 years of age and has posted a solid save percentage of 0.923 this season, the Ducks don’t have the excuse of facing a seasoned NHL netminder if they are unable to put pucks in the net.
2. Beat the elite.
Colorado’s current top line of MacKinnon centering Gabriel Landeskog and Andre Burakovsky is a dangerous one. Dallas Eakins would be wise to match up accordingly, especially because Rantanen will be missing from the second line for quite a while. Overall the Avalanche have scored 209 goals, which ranks third in the league and puts Anaheim’s total of 151 into stark contrast.
3. Channel the Pepsi Center.
On October 26, Anaheim won the first encounter of the season between these teams by a score of 5-2. Ryan Miller made 35 saves while Francouz allowed five goals on 27 shots in his own building. The Avalanche are nearly a lock to make the playoffs, but the Ducks can certainly play a spoiler role knowing that they’ve beaten Colorado already. Interestingly, both teams rank among the top five in the league when it comes to shorthanded goal rate.
Here, I’ll highlight one player from each team using a favorite hockey card.
Tyson Jost plays a bottom-six role for the Avalanche. However, the center from St. Albert, Alberta in Canada has solid underlying numbers. His Expected Goals For Percentage this season (xGF%) is 52.13 while his Actual Goals for Percentage (GF%) is a whopping 69.23.
Nick Ritchie can be a polarizing player: he has collected 76 penalty minutes in only 39 games played during 2019-20. Nevertheless, during 2019-20 the 10th overall pick in 2014 has a Corsi For Percentage (CF%) of 53.62 which trails only Ondrej Kase among Ducks on the current roster.