AVALANCHE (7-1-0, 14 PTS) @ PENGUINS (7-1-0, 14 PTS)
The upstart 7-1 Colorado Avalanche and the 7-1 Pittsburgh Penguins meet tonight in what should be an entertaining game, featuring a ton of talent upfront.
Roy is getting the most out of Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Roy said this past weekend that O’Reilly and Duchene are playing dominant hockey.
“Duchene and O’Reilly have been dominant,” Roy said. “What I like about them is the consistency that they’re bringing every night. That’s a good sign of maturity. They’re starting to get mature and they show a lot of poise and good things out there.”
Duchene leads the Avalanche with six goals and nine points. You also can’t talk about the Avalanche without mentioning 2013 1st overall pick Nathan MacKinnon who has a team-best six assists and also has a goal on the season.
“I think he’s got all the tools,” Sidney Crosby said Sunday.
Roy has given the Avalanche a swagger about them and it’s not a surprise the Avalanche are in the top-5 in goals but it’s how well defensively they have played that has really stood out as the Avalanche are second in the NHL giving up 1.50 goals per game.
Former Penguin Nate Guenin, a Pittsburgh native, who has been mostly an AHL player his whole career, is playing excellent defensive hockey under Roy. Guenin will be playing a second pairing role tonight with Ryan Wilson and Guenin leads the Avalanche with 22 blocked shots and is second on the team with 20 hits.
Can the Avalanche keep this up defensively? The Av’s are giving up 34 shots per game and some feel Semyon Varlamov (5-1-0, 1.68 GAA) is playing over his head.
The Penguins will avoid seeing Varlamov as Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2-0-0 1.00 GAA) will start vs the Penguins. Giguere posted a 2-0 shutout against Boston on October 10th and made 28 saves on 30 shots in a 4-2 win over the Sabres on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh will start Marc Andre Fleury (7-0-0, 1.84 GAA) who is 5-1 all-time vs the Avalanche.
The Penguins will again not be at full strength as Kris Letang, Matt D’Agostini, Beau Bennett and James Neal have been ruled out. Letang is getting close and should return Friday night. D’Agostini isn’t eligible to come off LTIR until after Friday night. Neal remains off the ice and will miss at least a couple more weeks.
Bennett’s injury is considered minor.
Defenseman Olli Maatta will be appearing in his ninth game tonight.