The Colorado Avalanche is making some changes to its lineup this evening when it plays its first road game of the campaign at the Los Angeles Kings.
Veteran defenseman Erik Johnson will make his season debut and serve as the seventh rear guard as the Avs are going to utilize a non-traditional alignment of 11 forwards and seven D-men. Forward Andre Burakovsky (upper body) and goaltender Pavel Francouz (lower body) are both day-to-day with their ailments.
With Burakovsky out, Joonas Donskoi is going to move to the second line with Nazem Kadri and Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost will be slotted into the third forward combination with J.T. Compher and Valeri Nichushkin. The three defensive pairings will remain the same as they were in Colorado's last game on Friday against the St. Louis Blues.
Philipp Grubauer will start in net for Colorado for the third consecutive game. He stopped all of the 21 shots he faced in the Avalanche's 8-0 win against the Blues on Friday, recording his 12th career shutout.
Tonight's contest is the first of eight meetings between the Avs and Kings this season and the first of four at Staples Center. Colorado and Los Angeles are reuniting as division foes this year, as they played in the Pacific Division together during the Avalanche's first three seasons from 1995-96 to 1997-98.
It is also the start of a four-game road trip for the Avs, who will face L.A. again on Thursday before playing two matchups at the Anaheim Ducks.
Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup for tonight's game at the Kings. All forward combinations and defensive pairings are subject to change.
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
20 Brandon Saad - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
17 Tyson Jost - 37 J.T. Compher - 13 Valeri Nichushkin
11 Matt Calvert - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
7 Devon Toews - 8 Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves - 49 Samuel Girard
28 Ian Cole - 22 Conor Timmins
6 Erik Johnson
31 Philipp Grubauer
32 Hunter Miska
Injury Report: Andre Burakovsky (upper body), Pavel Francouz (lower body)
Taxi Squad: Bowen Byram, Dennis Gilbert, Martin Kaut, Kiefer Sherwood, Adam Werner