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.
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: