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Projected Lineup: Avalanche at Blackhawks

Philipp Grubauer expected to get the start

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

The Colorado Avalanche begins its season series against the Chicago Blackhawks with a home-and-home set that starts this afternoon at United Center.

Colorado and Chicago will play four times in a matter of 23 days, with the Avs hosting the Hawks at Pepsi Center on Saturday and again on Dec. 21 in the last meeting of the year.

Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer is expected to get the start in net, his fifth in a row. He stopped 19-of-20 shots in Colorado's 4-1 victory against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

Forward Andre Burakovsky is set to miss his first game of the season due to an upper-body injury and with Mikko Rantanen not returning to the lineup from his lower-body ailment until Saturday, there are expected to be changes to the team's forward combinations for the first half of the back-to-back.

Colorado made two roster moves since Wednesday's win, recalling forwards Sheldon Dries and A.J. Greer from the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League.

The Avalanche did not hold a morning skate today due to the 2 p.m. MT game time, and the team's exact lineup won't be known until closer to puck drop.

The forward combinations and defensive pairings below are based on how the team practiced on Thursday. Mikko Rantanen skated on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Joonas Donskoi during the on-ice session, but Matt Nieto is slotted into that spot since Rantanen won't play. Nieto finished Wednesday's game in that position but did not practice on Thursday.

The projected lineup is expected to change.

83 Matt Nieto - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 72 Joonas Donskoi
17 Tyson Jost - 91 Nazem Kadri - 37 J.T. Compher
25 Logan O'Connor - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 13 Valeri Nichushkin
15 Sheldon Dries - 81 Vladislav Kamenev - 36 T.J. Tynan

16 Nikita Zadorov - 8 Cale Makar
48 Calle Rosen - 49 Samuel Girard
27 Ryan Graves - 28 Ian Cole

31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

Scratches: Mark Barberio, A.J. Greer

Injury Report: Andre Burakovsky (upper body) Matt Calvert (head), Erik Johnson (lower body), Gabriel Landeskog (lower body), Mikko Rantanen (lower body), Colin Wilson (lower body)

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