The Colorado Avalanche took care of business against the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night, dominating the slumping Kings 4-1 and completing the season sweep for the first time since moving to Colorado in 1995. The victory may have forced the Kings to make a panic move, as the preseason contender struggles to make the playoffs.
On Thursday night, Los Angeles made a blockbuster trade for some goalscoring, acquiring forward Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for defenseman Jack Johnson and a first round draft selection. Right now, Columbus is the center of the hockey world as they are in the process of dismantling their expensive (and extremely disappointing roster) -- and Colorado is flying straight into the eye of the storm.
Carter is gone. Antoine Vermette was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes for picks. Superstar winger Rick Nash is on the trading block and may be moved by next Monday's trade deadline. With so many players on the move, the current Blue Jackets roster is in a state of transition.
For Colorado, such an opponent should be an easy two points in the standings. Semyon Varlamov is playing well in net, Matt Duchene is healthy, and newly acquired forward Steve Downie was a force on the ice against Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the injury bug has severely tested Colorado's defensive depth. Ryan O'Byrne has been placed on the Injured Reserve for the next two weeks with a knee injury. Rookie defensemen Tyson Barrie and Stefan Elliott have been recalled from AHL Lake Erie to fill the roster. Erik Johnson will play against Columbus, but may not be 100% healthy. T.J. Galiardi will also make his return to the ice after missing the previous week.
This is a game that the Avalanche should win. But with the Detroit Red Wings looming on the horizon (and the current Columbus roster playing for their jobs), the Avalanche may get caught looking ahead.
Puck drops at 5:00 p.m. MDT