It's been a Tale of Two Homestands for the Colorado Avalanche. Entering their season long eight game homestand in the midst of an offensive slump, Colorado needed a strong showing in front of their home crowd to keep their fading playoff hopes alive. It sure didn't start out that way after going 1-2 in their first three home games and appearing like a lost team.
The last four games have been vastly different, as they have gone 3-1 in dominating fashion, including blowout wins against the Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils, and a well-earned victory against one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the St. Louis Blues.
This streak happens to coincide with the debut of blossoming rookie defenseman Stefan Elliott, who scored three points in his first three games and adding plenty of speed and puck handling ability on the Avalanche blue line. He will be joined by the return of defenseman Erik Johnson -- who has missed the past week with a strained groin -- as first reported by Mike Chambers of the Denver Post.
In a fitting end to the homestand, the archrival Detroit Red Wings come to town for their second visit to Pepsi Center this season. Detroit has recovered from their early season slump and have returned to their standard domination, having won seven games in a row and catapulting them back towards the top of the Central Division. Pavel Datsyuk has been on fire, scoring six goals and seven assists in the past 10 games. Valtteri Flippula and Johan Franzen have both contributed 10 points a piece in that time frame, and goalie Jimmy Howard (.928 SV% in the past 10 games) has been very good as well.
Detroit is a dangerous team firing on all cylinders. If the Colorado Avalanche have truly turned a corner, they will have to earn this victory to wrap up the homestand. In the tight Western Conference playoff race, a 5-3 homestand can make a difference. A loss tonight, dropping down to a 4-4 homestand, is the definition of team staying afloat.
Puck drops at 6:00 p.m. MDT.