The last time the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche met, both teams were severely depleted by COVID-19; the Preds had had to replace seven players and their entire regular coaching staff, while some last-minute protocol cases for the Avalanche meant they were only able to dress sixteen skaters for the game. The Preds won, but I’m not sure how much that game can say about either team. We’re starting from scratch here.
The Avalanche are two points behind the Predators with four games in hand; winning this one in regulation be huge for the Preds’ hopes for the division. The St. Louis Blues are also clawing for space at the top of the division, with the Minnesota Wild not far behind either.
Winning this one in regulation might be tough for the Preds, however. The last game the Avalanche lost was their December 16th matchup against the Preds; the last game they lost while dressing a full roster—any full roster—was a December 4th OT loss to the Ottawa Senators (okay, anything can happen). Gabriel Landeskog entered COVID-19 protocol yesterday, but other than that the Avs should have everyone available tonight.
Landeskog is the Avs’ third-leading scorer (35 points) and goalscorer (14 goals) as well as their captain, but they still have plenty of firepower without him. Nazem Kadri leads the team in points with 46 and assists with 33, while Mikko Rantanen is the goals leader with 16, and 40 points of his own. Defender Cale Makar has 15 goals, while Nathan Mackinnon’s team-fourth 34 points have been accumulated in just 22 games total. They have a total of six players scoring at over a point-per-game pace, including Makar and his fellow defender Devon Toews.
Goaltending is a weaker spot for the Avalanche, but Darcy Kuemper has been perfectly fine as a starting goalie and his .908 sv% is more than adequate. He’s turning in a slightly-above-average performance at 5v5, and although the Avs have struggled to get saves on their penalty kill, they also have a very bad penalty kill; there’s only so much a goalie can do.
Whether we’ll see the Avs’ penalty kill much is an open question. They’re the best team in the league at drawing penalties, while the Preds take a lot of penalties themselves. We’ll likely see some balancing calls, but we should expect to see more of the Avs’ (very good) power play and 5v5 play than we do their poor penalty kill.
How to Watch
The game airs at 7 PM Central on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.