Avalanche Vs. Canucks: Disappointing Division Rivals Finally Meet This Season

Colorado has not fared well against Vancouver lately, but needs a win to stay afloat in the standings.

The Colorado Avalanche are in the midst of a much-needed season long homestand, one that comes after two straight weeks of disappointing results.

Their opponent at Pepsi Center is a familiar foe, the Vancouver Canucks. This past summer, Vancouver found themselves just one victory away from their franchise's first Stanley Cup championship -- but the current season has not been as kind. After the first quarter of the regular season, the Canucks are in third place within the Western Division and currently on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture.

What happened to the Canucks team that won the President's Trophy last season?

Henrik Sedin has been producing at his normal elite levels this season, but his brother Daniel Sedin has fallen off the goal scoring pace. With only six goals on the season so far, Daniel's current pace is a far cry from the 41 goals he scored last season. Overall, the Canucks have 10 players with three or more goals scored -- a sign of excellent offensive balance. Their power play is (once again) tops in the league at 26.7%, just ahead of Colorado's 25.7% success rate.

The big disappointment has been their goaltending. Roberto Luongo has yet to recover from his slow start to the season and has a dismal .896 SV% on the season. His backup Cory Schneider has a very average .912 SV%.

For Colorado, the major change is the return of goalie Semyon Varlamov to net. Varlamov watched from the bench the past three games, but will get the start in net for Colorado. In his past six starts, the young Russian goalie has a dismal .831 SV%. With a question mark starting in net, the Avalanche are likely to lean heavily on Matt Duchene once again, as the young forward has carried the team with seven goals in the last 10 games. Milan Hejduk, David Jones, and Paul Stastny (the next three highest points leaders on the team) have a combined nine goals in that span.

Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MDT from Pepsi Center.

For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey or our Canucks blog Nucks Misconduct.

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