The Avalanche come into tonight’s game on a four-game losing streak. Lucky for the Avs, the Hurricanes have also had quite the downturn since February. Colorado only has two wins in their last 10 games — and one of those came in Raleigh against the Canes.
The Canes biggest advantage in the game will come from possession, the Canes have a 51.7 CF% as opposed to the Avalanche’s 47.9%. However, the Avs do have the upper hand in one key category: goaltending. The Canes have the worst even strength save percentage with a .906 team mark, which is worse than even the Avalanche.
The Aves are lead offensively by Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene who have 42 and 36 points respectively. MacKinnon leads the team in points with 12 goals and 30 assists whereas Duchene leads the team in goals with 16 goals and 20 assists.
To put this into perspective, MacKinnon would be first on the Canes for points and Duchene would be fourth. Both Jeff Skinner and Sebastian Aho have more goals than the Avs’ top two with 20 and 18 goals respectively. (It's nice to know that the Canes have the ability to outscore someone.)
Duchene and the Canes were in the news recently as they were linked together as trade partners. While many fans of both teams were upset by the inactivity at the trade deadline it makes sense that the players were not moved. The Canes are at a point where they are going to tank for a better draft pick, and acquiring talent at the deadline isn’t ideal.
The Avalanche’s asking price also stayed high due to the fact that they know they are going to have more trade partners at the end of the season. There was no reason for them to get rid of a player for less than they want at the deadline when they can get more a couple of months later.
Another big factor in the deal was that the Canes were not guaranteed that Duchene would re-sign at the end of his current deal. Ron Francis didn’t want to give up a first round pick, a starter, and a top prospect for one and a half years of a player. Francis would need to know that he can get a player long term. With the pieces that the Canes have, they can acquire almost anyone they want and that is what kept the deal from happening.
In the week following the trade deadline, the teams have only been linked by one thing: the draft lottery. This game is going to be interesting to watch because neither team will admit it, but the only thing they are playing for is a better draft pick. The Aves have all but locked up the top draft odds, but the Canes have the ability to move up into the top five depending on how the season finishes up.
- As bad as they have been offensively, they have been just as bad defensively. The Avalanche are last in the league in both goals for with 123 and in goals against with 213.
- Jordan Staal and Brett Pesce are both point per game players in their careers against the Avs. Staal has 12 points (6g, 6a) in 12 games and Pesce has two assists in two games.
- Neither goaltender has been stellar. Cam Ward is 5-3-2 with a 2.56 GAA and one shutout in 10 career games against Colorado. Eddie Lack is 0-2-1 with a 4.33 GAA in three career appearances against the Avalanche.
- Ryan Murphy needs to play in 18 more games this season to hit the 70 games threshold to be eligible for the expansion draft. This along with Klas Dahlbeck and Matt Tennyson is the most likely plan for Francis to keep all of his young defensemen protected for the draft.