Last night was the first time I sat down and legitimately watched an Alumni Game and it was great wasn’t it? The Red Wings came out on the losing end and it was pretty reminiscent of the late 1990’s where the Red Wings would outplay the Avalanche but lose because Patrick Roy stood on his head. As much as I hate to give that guy credit, for one last time, he won the Avs a game vs. Detroit. Now let’s take a look at a game that actually counts for two points.
Roy will have an impact on tonight’s game as well, but I prefer him standing behind the bench instead of between the pipes. Tonight will be the second meeting between the two teams and the last time was pretty similar to last night…the Red Wings dominated but the Avalanche goalie stood on his melon and won his team the game. Colorado has been defying hockey analytics for a long time, so theoretically, if the Red Wings bring the same game they brought two and a half weeks ago, they should walk out winners tonight.
THE RED WINGS
The Red Wings only practiced for 20 minutes on Friday because the ice conditions and the glare from the sun were bad, so they never got to line rushes. These lines are from Thursday’s practice, but head coach Jeff Blashill said he hasn’t finalized the lineup. The only things that are confirmed are that Tomas Jurco will play in his first outdoor game (likely for Teemu Pulkkinen) and Jonathan Ericsson will return from a lower-body injury (for Brendan Smith by the looks of things).
This isn’t a Winter Classic, so the whole world won’t be watching, but this is a big stage for the Red Wings’ youngsters Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou to showcase their talent. Both of them looked great in the Red Wings’ shootout win over the Blue Jackets and with a few days off before tonight’s game, the whole team should be refreshed and ready to go.
The Avalanche acquired former Red Wings’ draft pick Shawn Matthias from the Maple Leafs and he scored in his Avs’ debut on Wednesday. He has two goals in his last two games and represents the 6-foot-4, 231 lbs. part of an all 6-plus-feet, 200-plus-pound third line that Avalanche have. Their top-six can score and the bottom-six is heavy.
Don’t be fooled though, the Red Wings dominated this team a few weeks ago because this is one of the league’s worst possession teams and moving outdoors shouldn’t change that. Matt Duchene leads the forwards with 48 points (26G / 22A) in 63 games while Tyson Barrie leads blue liners with 41 (10G / 31A).
BETWEEN THE PIPES
It will be Petr Mrazek vs. Semyon Varlamov in goal tonight. Mrazek stopped 28 of 29 shots in the Red Wings’ shootout win over the Blue Jackets and is now 5-2-2 with a 2.23 GAA and .913 SV% in February. Two weeks ago he allowed two goals on 21 shots in the shootout loss to the Avalanche and even though tonight’s game is vastly different than normal, he is 12-6-1 with a 2.13 GAA and .932 SV% on the road this season.
Varlamov on the other hand, is coming off of the flu and a loss in Vancouver that saw him give up four on 28. He is 3-4-0 with a 3.32 GAA and .902 SV% in February and was remarkable in the first meeting. He is terribly inconsistent, so who knows which Varly will show up outside.
WORDS FROM THE ENEMY
You spoke, and Patrick Roy is tonight’s top player.
20 saves & tonight’s game-winning goalie. pic.twitter.com/6hLi2C97gf
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) February 27, 2016
Ugh. Why did I even post that.
WHERE TO WATCH
Puck drop is at 8:00 p.m ET at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado. You can watch it on the NBC or SportsNet if you are Canadian. If you aren’t near a television, you can catch it on the Radio with WXYT-FM 97.1 The Ticket.
Also, make sure to follow us on Twitter; we’ll have live tweets, GIFS, and all the fun stuff that a topical social media platform has.