The Colorado Avalanche begins the 2019-20 regular season on Thursday at home against the Calgary Flames.
It's a rematch of the clubs' first-round series during the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs in which the Avs won four straight contests to defeat the Flames in five games. Calgary entered the postseason as the top seed in the Western Conference. The series was the first-ever postseason meeting between the teams.
This is the first time that the Avalanche has faced the Flames to begin a season and the third time in franchise history. The Quebec Nordiques met the Atlanta Flames in their inaugural NHL game during the 1979-80 campaign and the squads faced off again to start the 1980-81 season, which was the Flames' first-ever game in Calgary after moving from Georgia.
Colorado finished the preseason with a 2-3-1 record, while Calgary went 4-3-1 during exhibition play.
Avalanche vs. Calgary Flames
Pepsi Center | Denver, Colo.
Cale Makar is from Calgary and played for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League from 2014-2017… Tyson Jost (St. Albert) and assistant coaches Ray Bennett (Innisfail) and Nolan Pratt (Fort McMurray) are from the province of Alberta… Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar was an assistant coach for the Flames' AHL affiliate, Abbotsford Heat, during the 2009-10 season… Colin Wilson's father, Carey, played for the Flames from 1983-1988.
This is the first time the Avalanche has played the Flames in a season opener since moving to Colorado in 1995… The Avs own a 55-53-11 record against Calgary since 1995-96, while the franchise sports a 66-75-23 mark all-time against the Flames… Calgary won all three matchups (Colorado 0-2-1) during the 2018-19 regular season before the Avalanche won the first-round playoff series in five games… The teams were in the same division from 1995-2013 (Pacific and then Northwest).
Colorado and Calgary will face each other three times this season, with the Nov. 19 meeting taking place at Scotiabank Saddledome before the Avs host the series finale at Pepsi Center on Dec. 9.
Conor Timmins could make his NHL debut, while fellow defenseman Cale Makar will skate in his first regular-season outing after playing in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games last spring… Goaltender Philipp Grubauer is expected to start in net, becoming the eighth different netminder to guard the pipes in a season opener in the Avs' 24 seasons in Denver.
The Avalanche enters the season almost completely healthy as defenseman Ian Cole is the only player that is currently out with an injury… Cole had offseason surgery on both of his hips but has been practicing with the team in a non-contact jersey recently.
SCOUTING THE FLAMES
Calgary opens the new season after finishing as the Western Conference's top team during the 2018-19 regular season. The Flames sported a 50-25-7 record and 107 points last year. They won their division for the first time since 2005-06 (Northwest Division).
Calgary's 3.52 goals per game in 2018-19 were tied for the second most in the NHL, while its 53.82 shot attempts percentage during 5-on-5 play ranked fifth in the league.
The Flames have won eight of their last 10 regular season games against the Avalanche (8-2-0).
(OPPOSING) PLAYER TO WATCH: Johnny Gaudreau
The forward finished last season with a career-high 99 points (36 goals, 63 assists), tied with Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon for seventh most in the NHL. During the teams' 2019 first-round series, MacKinnon had five goals and three assists while Gaudreau finished with one point, a helper in Game 2.
Colorado opens its season at home for the 11th time in the last 14 years.
Colorado begins its 20th season with Pepsi Center as its home arena. The Avalanche played its first-ever contest in its then-new rink on Oct. 13, 1999, a 2-1 win against the Boston Bruins. The first-ever event at Pepsi Center was a Celine Dion concert on Oct. 1, 1999.
The Avalanche/Nordiques franchise has posted a .654 winning percentage (22-10-7) on opening night, the second-best record in the NHL behind only the Tampa Bay Lightning (17-7-2, .692).
The Avalanche is beginning its 24th season in Colorado and the 40th as a franchise (including 16 years in Quebec)… The Avalanche/Nordiques franchise owns a 27-8-4 (.744) all-time record in home openers. Colorado is 15-5-3 (.717) in home openers since moving from Quebec, which includes a 13-4-2 (.737) mark at Pepsi Center. Only Minnesota (.833; 13-1-4) has a higher points percentage in the first home game of a season … The Avs won their final six home contests of the 2018-19 regular season, their longest home winning streak of the campaign. Including the club's 4-1 home record during the playoffs, Colorado is 10-1 in its last 11 games at Pepsi Center and 15-3-1 in its last 19… Head coach Jared Bednar is undefeated in season openers (3-0)… Gabriel Landeskog enters his eighth season as team captain. Presently only six other NHL players have served as captain for their respective clubs for a longer period of time than Landeskog.