PHILADELPHIA – Hello from the Wells Fargo Center, where the Avalanche will play the Philadelphia Flyers at 5 p.m. Mountain time.

There are some lineup alterations for the Avs, who will try for their third straight win: Nikita Zadorov will return, after being a healthy scratch the last three games. He was paired with Anton Lindholm at the morning skate. Patrik Nemeth will be paired with Tyson Barrie, while Mark Barberio will see duty on the top pairing with Erik Johnson.

Two Avalanche forwards will not play because of illness. They are Rocco Grimaldi and Matt Nieto. Grimaldi, I’m told, isn’t even on the trip, while Nieto is here but has been ruled out already by Jared Bednar. So, that means the Avs will use a lineup of 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Interestingly, Bednar brought up the subject of analytics this morning, as to why Barberio will play with Johnson. He said the analytics show that they have had good success together.

Chris Bigras will be the healthy scratch on defense. Andrei Mironov will be the seventh D-man getting spot minutes.

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I’m a bit baffled by the decision to go with Mironov over Bigras, as Miro just wasn’t very good the other night against Carolina. But Bednar still seems to be holding that turnover and goal (on that controversial offsides play) in Las Vegas last week. He hasn’t played since.

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal, with Jonathan Bernier playing Sunday in Brooklyn against the Islanders.

Regarding the latest rumors about a near three-way trade that would have sent Matt Duchene to Ottawa and Kyle Turris to Nashville, with the Avs receiving a package of prospects/picks: Those teams have been talking possible trade for quite a while now, so this isn’t anything really new.

I’m told that this deal wasn’t as close as people might have thought, at least from an Avalanche perspective. Teams can hope all they want that they’re going to get Joe Sakic to give in on his wish list of a TOP young D-man and/or TOP D-man prospect, but it hasn’t happened yet and I don’t expect it will happen like that.

Do I think Duchene will be traded at some point? Yes, but not for some kind of uncertain gamble of a player/prospect.

Duchene is maintaining the same “I’m here to play hockey and that’s all I’m talking about” demeanor. He’ll skate on a line with Nail Yakupov and Sven Andrighetto to start the game, while Gabe Landeskog will skate with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen.

I’m not quite sure of the third/fourth lines, but it looked like Carl Soderberg might skate with Gabriel Bourque and Blake Comeau, with Alexander Kerfoot and A.J. Greer skating together. I guess Bednar will have to get creative with that one line that only has two healthy forwards on it. Somebody is going to be double-shifting a lot probably.

Here is Bednar talking about the lineup and what he wants to see out of his team tonight, after giving up 60 shots on net against Ottawa:

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Adrian Dater

Adrian Dater is a staff writer with BSNDenver. He started his journalism career way, way back in 1988 as a proofreader with the Concord Monitor as a kid out of college (Keene State College), and has wended its way since with a 25-year stop at The Denver Post, 20 of which were spent as the beat writer of the Colorado Avalanche, from its inception in 1995. Adrian has also worked as a primary hockey writer with Sports Illustrated, The Sporting News, The Hockey News, and Bleacher Report. He is the author of seven sports books, including the best-selling “Blood Feud: Colorado Avalanche v. Detroit Red Wings, The Inside Story of Pro Sports’ Nastiest and Best Rivalry of Its Era” and “100 Things Avalanche Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die”, which was published in October, 2016.

  • Kristofers Knesis

    gave up 60 against Carolina though

    but great article as always AD

  • Av-a-dabba-doo

    Personally I am glad that Zadorov will be (finally) reinserted in the lineup, and hope he has a strong effort. I don’t know enough to pass judgment on how Coach Bednar has handled that situation, but it was becoming worrisome. Let’s hope Z’s benching served a positive purpose, and that from this point on the trajectory is upward. I’m also relieved that Varlamov has been given the nod (and vote of confidence) in goal. Nothing against Bernier, but too much oscillating between personnel can, IMHO, be counterproductive.

    My dream game would include (in order):
    – Avs win
    – Encouraging game from Zadorov
    – Strong performance from Varly
    – Goals from any of the following (especially): MacKinnon, Yakupov, Duchene, Johnson, Zadorov, Kerfoot, Barrie, Rantanen

    GO AVS!

    • Av-a-dabba-doo

      Hey, pretty close! WAY TO GO, AVS!!

    • Jimbotronn

      Regarding the back-and-forth between Varlamov and Bernier: normally I’d agree with you on its negative effects, but my guess is that they are being as cautious as they can with Varlamov’s surgically-repaired and historically troublesome lower half, and that is the main explanation to why Bernier has been getting a bit more work than you typically see out of a backup. I would expect it to be this way for much of the year, but if it keeps Varly healthy it will be worth it.

      • Av-a-dabba-doo

        Thanks for your comment, Jimbo. May I rephrase? I’m glad they gave Varly the nod in the FIRST game of a back-to-back (I think it shows confidence, which I think he earned), but I fully understand that tonight they will go to Bernier, so as not to overtax Varlamov’s physical limits. (Basically, we agree.)

  • OCMS

    Does anyone know what analytics Bednar is referring to that supports the pairing Barberio and EJ?