Colorado has won the first three games of this road trip, including impressive victories against the reigning champion Boston Bruins and a rout of the Ottawa Senators. This surge has placed them tied atop the Western Conference standings.
Really. Yes, it's early in the season. But after last year's rough finish, it's great to find reasons for Avalanche fans to feel optimistic.
The challenge continues against Montreal -- a team that has made the playoffs in four straight seasons. This year, the Canadiens have been hit early by injuries. Michael Cammalleri, Jaroslav Spacek, and Chris Campoli are all expected to miss multiple weeks at the beginning of the season. The burden has been placed on goaltender Carey Price to keep the shorthanded Habs in games, and he has done his job. Price has started all three games for Montreal this season with a 2.36 GAA. The Canadiens defense has done an excellent job at shot prevention, only allowing 70 shots to even make it to their net on the year (an average of 23 shots per game). Price's start prevents Colorado from facing a familiar face in net for the second straight game. Peter Budaj signed a two year contract with the Canadiens this offseason.
Colorado is not immune to the injury bug. Top winger Peter Mueller missed the game against Ottawa, and will be a scratch for this game as well. He skated in practice and has been listed as day-to-day. Mueller's concussion history has been a concern, but it does not appear to be the issue right now; the likely culprit is fatigue.
Kevin Porter will get his first start of the season, and Joakim Lindstrom is rewarded with another game after his two goal debut with Colorado against the Senators.
Semyon Varlamov will start in net for Colorado, and he is no stranger to Montreal's quick forwards. His career numbers against the Canadiens? A .950 save percentage and 1.45 GAA in four games.
Puck drops at 5:00 p.m. MDT