Tonight, the Avs try to bounce back from a devastating 4-1 Valentine’s Day loss as the Colorado Avalanche welcome the Montreal Canadiens to the Pepsi Center in downtown Denver at 8:00 EST. On Sunday, the Sabres got off to an early lead in Buffalo, up 2-0 in the first few minutes and 3-0 by the end of the first period. While the Avalanche recorded single-goal victories on the road against the Detroit Red Wings and the Washington Senators prior to Sunday’s loss, they were just 1-5 between January 26 and February 9.
Currently sitting at fifth place in the Central Division, Colorado is eighth overall in the Western Conference at 62 points. While they have a winning record on the road (17-13), they’ve lost more games in Denver this year than they’ve won (12-13-4).
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) February 17, 2016
Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens are coming off of two consecutive losses in which they gave up six goals — that’s six goals per game, not combined. They, too, are sitting at fifth place in their division (Atlantic) but are just twelfth overall in the Eastern Conference. Montreal began the 2015-16 season 9-0-0, but have completely fallen off course since then.
This road game comes after two days off for the Canadiens, while the Avs have had three days to rest up before their home game. If they lose this one to Montreal, if will be a season-high fifth consecutive loss at home. Coincidentally, if the Canadiens lose, it will be their fifth consecutive loss on the road. As noted by CBS Sports, when the two teams met in November, the Avalanche recorded a 6-1 road victory.
One thing the Avalanche clearly need to give some attention to is their poor performance on the power play. They are 0 for 9 in the last two games and 1 for 23 in their last eight home games. One minor adjustment that may help is that Avs point-leader Matt Duchene will return to his regular position at Center. As noted by the Denver Post, Jack Skille will return to the line-up at Right Forward tonight against Montreal. Skille missed five games after an elbow from an undisclosed Dallas Star left him with a concussion. He passed NHL concussion protocol Tuesday morning and was cleared for tonight’s game.
With the NHL trade deadline less than two weeks away, everyone has questions about possible moves that could be seen throughout the league. While the Avalanche are struggling to remain in playoff contention, Colorado’s upper management seems adamant that no major moves will be made this season for short-term gains. If an offer is worked out between now and February 29, it will be one that meets the long-term goals of the organization.
As noted by Mile High Sticking, the trade talk doesn’t seem to be about the Avalanche. While Joe Sakic has been quoted as saying “You’re always talking with teams, and you’re wanting to listen on anybody, really… If there’s a deal that makes sense for your organization, you’re going to do it… But you’re always listening. You’re never not going to listen.” It’s possible that he’s listening to the Vancouver Canucks about Radim Vrbata, but that’s nothing more than speculation.
Where to watch
The Colorado Avalanche host the Montreal Canadiens beginning at 8/7c. Colorado Avalanche vs. Montreal Canadiens will air on NHL GameCenter and NHL CenterIce in the United States and Sportsnet (English) and RDS (French) in Canada.
[Image credit Richard Wolowicz / Getty Images]