The Colorado Avalanche looks to keep rolling to open the 2019-20 season on Thursday against the Boston Bruins at the Pepsi Center.
The Avs are 2-0-0 so far this year, earning a 5-3 win against the Calgary Flames and a 4-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Goaltender Philipp Grubauer has 56 saves going into the matchup, giving him a .918 save percentage on the season. Leading Colorado in points in the early going is forward Mikko Rantanen who has scored three goals and recorded one assist.
Boston is currently 3-0-0 and has started the campaign with a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars, a 1-0 win against the Arizona Cardinals and 4-3 triumph over the Vegas Golden Knights. Bruins left wing Brad Marchand has three goals and one assist this season, while goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak have combined for 94 saves.
Both teams will seek to stay undefeated after Thursday's contest. Colorado and Boston face each other once more this year in Boston on Dec. 7, 2019.
Avalanche vs. BOSTON BRUINS
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
Colorado forwards Colin Wilson (2007-2009) Matt Nieto (2010-2013) both played at Boston University… Cale Makar played two seasons (2017-2019) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before turning pro last spring… Avs Assistant general manager Craig Billington played two seasons (1994-1996) for the Bruins as a goaltender before being acquired by Colorado in 1996… Bruins assistant coach Joe Sacco was Colorado's head coach from 2009-2013… Boston's Chris Wagner spent part of the 2015-16 season with the Avalanche… Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo was born in Colorado Springs, CO and played for the Colorado Thunderbirds U16 team from 2011-13.
The teams met twice during the 2018-19 season, with each squad winning on their home ice. Colorado is 4-0-1 in its last five games in the series and holds a 58-72-16 record against the Bruins and a 28-41-6 record against the club at home overall. The last time they met in a playoff game was in the first round of the 1983 playoffs as the Quebec Nordiques.
Colorado and Boston regularly meet twice per season, once at home for each team.
The Avs recently reassigned defenseman Conor Timmins to the Colorado Eagles earlier this week and recalled rear guard Kevin Connauton while veteran D-man Ian Cole has returned to practice as a full participant. It is unknown who will fill the sixth defenseman spot in the lineup but it is likely either Connauton or Mark Barberio.
Colin Wilson will be in the lineup against Boston while J.T. Compher is out with a lower-body injury.
Ian Cole was officially cleared for contact this week and is a full participant in practice with the team but remains on the injured reserve list. After practice on Wednesday, head coach Jared Bednar noted that Cole will not play on Thursday. Forward J.T. Compher has not skated since Colorado's game against Minnesota on Saturday and is out with a lower-body injury.
SCOUTING THE BRUINS
Boston finished the 2018-19 regular season with a 49-24-9 record and 107 points. The Bruins advanced to the Stanley Cup Final after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets and Carolina Hurricanes. They eventually lost to the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the final.
The Bruins defeated the Avalanche 2-1 in overtime the last time they met in February 2019. Boston left wing Brad Marchand and defenseman John Moore scored for Boston while Nathan MacKinnon tallied for Colorado.
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: BRAD MARCHAND
The left wing currently leads the Bruins in points with four (three goals, one assist). Marchand recorded a career-high 100 points (36 goals, 64 assists) last season over 79 games.
Marchand, who is in his 11th NHL season, needs two more helpers to reach the 300 assists in his career.
Defenseman Cale Makar has registered a point in each of the Avs' first two games of the campaign, becoming the first Avalanche rookie to tally a point in his first two appearances since Stefan Elliott did it in three straight from Nov. 26-30, 2011.
The Avs have scored at least one goal in all six periods this season, the second straight year that Colorado has opened the campaign by scoring in each of its first six frames. No Avalanche club has ever opened a season by tallying in each of its first seven stanzas, however the Quebec Nordiques scored in its first seven or more periods on four different occasions.
Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon each have 19 shots on goal versus Boston since 2016.
This game will be the third straight home game for Colorado since opening the season on Oct. 3, 2019… The Avs play again on Saturday at home against the Arizona Coyotes before heading out on a six-game road trip.