The Colorado Avalanche face the Atlanta Thrashers for the second time in as many weeks, though Colorado enters this game winless in their past four games -- though they earned a point in three of those games. So while the Avalanche appear to be slumping, they have really been losing close games on the road. When you consider the multitide of injuries and new players on the roster, this comes as little surprise. In fact, Colorado hasn't lost a game by more than a single goal since November 24 against Vancouver, a span of over two weeks.
Atlanta continues to convince the league they are for real. If it wasn't for Sidney Crosby and the unstoppable Pittsburgh Penguins, the Thrashers would be the talk of the league. They have won eight of their past nine games -- with the only loss during that stretch to those same Penguins -- and are tied for second with Tampa Bay in a fascinating Southeast Division race. Ondrej Pavelec continues to be a force between the pipes, and their power play has become simply elite. Atlanta now ranks second in the NHL (barely behind Vancouver) with the man advantage, converting nearly 25% of their opportunities into goals.
Colorado needs a win in the worst way, and unfortunately have to face their two toughest opponents on this road trip at the tail end, and on back-to-back nights. With Washington looming tomorrow night, the Avalanche need a boost of confidence and to keep pace with Vancouver. In order to beat Atlanta, Matt Duchene will have to continue his hot streak. The past six games, the 19 year old center has scored six goals and tallied two assists, taking over scoring responsibilities for a club that desperately misses Chris Stewart.
The puck drops at 5:30pm MDT.