Red Wings-Avs mini preview: a stiff task ahead tonight in Denver

The Detroit Red Wings have a very stiff task ahead of them in facing the Colorado Avalanche tonight in Denver (9 PM EST start on Bally Sports Detroit Plus/Altitude/97.1 FM), playing their 3rd game in 4 nights tonight.

The 13-11-and-3 Red Wings are coming off a 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues, Detroit is 4-8-and-1 away from Little Caesars Arena thus far this season; our friends from Colorado sit at 14-7-and-2 over the course of only 23 games played to Detroit’s 27 games played, and the Avs are on a two-game winning streak, having most recently taken a 7-3 decision from the New York Rangers on Wednesday evening.

Field Level Media posted a game preview which has quite a bit of bluster about the old days of the Wings-Avs rivalry before getting down to brass tacks regarding both teams’ present-day rosters:

The teams are also on a different trajectory. Colorado is in win-now mode with a high-scoring team led by Nathan MacKinnon, while the Red Wings are on the upswing of a tear-down and rebuild. Detroit has suffered some dark seasons of late but has a winning record and is in contention for a playoff spot that was not a possibility two years ago, when it finished with an NHL-worst 39 points.

“That was a tough season,” Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser said. “It seemed like every night, it felt like we didn’t have a chance to win. … This year’s been a total reversal from that so far.”

The Red Wings have succeeded even with key players sidelined. Tyler Bertuzzi, a first-line forward, and Marc Staal are in COVID-19 protocols and other players are banged up. Bertuzzi and Staal did not play in Thursday’s 6-2 loss in St. Louis.

The Avalanche are familiar with injuries. They’ve had every top-six forward and top-four defenseman miss time due to injury, suspension or COVID-19 protocols. The latest scare came when MacKinnon, who took a hard check in Wednesday’s 7-3 win at the New York Rangers and was checked for a concussion but returned later in the game.

MacKinnon has just two goals this season but Colorado still leads the NHL in scoring at 4.26 goals per game. The Avalanche scored five or more goals in nine of their last 13 games and are 10-2-1 in that span.

“On the offensive side of it, we’ve definitely been putting the puck in the net recently. At the start of the year it wasn’t quite happening for us,” said Logan O’Connor, who scored two goals in 22 seconds in the win over the Rangers. “All in all, great road trip, 3-1-1 is pretty good for a long stretch there.”

The Associated Press also posted a get-to-the-point game preview

BOTTOM LINE: Colorado hosts the Detroit Red Wings after Logan O’Connor scored two goals in the Avalanche’s 7-3 win over the Rangers.

The Avalanche have gone 7-2-1 in home games. Colorado leads the league averaging 4.3 goals per game, led by Mikko Rantanen with 12.

The Red Wings are 4-8-1 in road games. Detroit is ninth in the Eastern Conference averaging 4.9 assists per game, led by Moritz Seider with 0.6.

The matchup Friday is the first meeting of the season for the two teams.

TOP PERFORMERS: Devon Toews leads the Avalanche with a plus-16 in 14 games this season. Nazem Kadri has 11 assists over the last 10 games for Colorado.

Dylan Larkin leads the Red Wings with 10 goals and has 22 points. Robby Fabbri has five goals and two assists over the last 10 games for Detroit.

LAST 10 GAMES: Avalanche: 7-2-1, averaging 5.2 goals, 8.8 assists, 4.4 penalties and 11.3 penalty minutes while giving up 3.8 goals per game with an .865 save percentage.

If you wish to take a look back at Wednesday’s 7-3 Avs win over the Rangers in New York City, the Associated Press and provide recaps (with offering the Game Summary, Event Summary and team rosters), and Sportsnet posted Wednesday’s highlights:

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.