The Colorado Avalanche hosts the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center, the first contest of a home-and-home series that will take place in a span of four days.
Detroit is the only team in the NHL that Colorado has yet to face this season. The Avalanche was 1-1-0 against the Red Wings in 2015-16 with each team winning on the road. The Avs are 28-40-6 all-time against the Wings and 13-19-5 at home in the overall series.
Last Time Out
The Avalanche and Red Wings each enter Wednesday's contest coming off a loss. Colorado fell 1-0 to the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night. Calvin Pickard turned in a 34-save performance to keep the Avalanche within striking distance, but the Avs were unable to put one of their 22 shots past Mike Smith.
Detroit wrapped up a short two-game homestand with a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday night. Frans Nielsen scored the lone goal for Detroit, a power-play tally early in the second stanza that knotted the game at one. The Rangers scored twice in the second and added one in the third to take the win.
Video: Colorado and Detroit begin a home-and-home series
Last Time They Met
Colorado and Detroit last met at the 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Coors Field on Feb. 27, 2016, where Detroit was victorious, 5-3. The Avalanche led 2-1 after the opening period and held a lead through a scoreless second frame, but the Red Wings outscored the Avs 4-1 in the final stanza. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each had multi-point games for the Avalanche, while the Wings got multi-point efforts from Tomas Tatar, Darren Helm and Niklas Kronwall.
What to Watch
The Avs and Red Wings are among the top faceoff teams in the National Hockey League, as Colorado's 53.5 overall faceoff win percentage ranks second and Detroit's 52.5 win percentage is good for fourth. They hold the top two spots in offensive zone win percentage, where Colorado has a league-best 56.2 rate of success and the Red Wings' 54.7 win percentage is tied with the Boston Bruins for second.
From an individual standpoint, Matt Duchene is the NHL's leader in faceoffs, with a 62.5 success rate (among players who have taken 500 or more draws). Frans Nielsen has paced the Red Wings with a 55.0 winning percentage.
Avalanche Line Combinations
The Avs have mixed up their line combinations over the last handful of games, trying to spark some offensive chemistry and see where their new addition, Sven Andrighetto, might best fit in the lineup.
Following Tuesday afternoon's practice at Family Sports Center, head coach Jared Bednar said he was still working with the coaching staff on determining who would be playing where and with whom for Wednesday's tilt.
"We're trying to experiment a little bit. We've got some new guys into our lineup--Andrighetto in particular--we've liked what we've seen from him," said Bednar after practice. "Offensively, he's finding a way to contribute on most nights here. I like his speed. He's making some plays. So, we've had him with Duchene. I think he might be a good fit for MacKinnon with the speed that he has. Trying to get someone up in the rush with MacK as we break out of our zone, so he's got some guys with him on the attack and has some options."
Player to Watch
Colorado: Defenseman Anton Lindholm
Recalled from the San Antonio Rampage on Monday, Lindholm is expected to make his NHL debut on Wednesday night. Bednar used the phrases "physical defender" and "tenacious competitor" to describe the rookie blueliner, who has two goals, 10 assists and 39 penalty minutes in 59 contests for the Rampage. He'll begin his NHL career paired with Francois Beauchemin.
"We just want to encourage him to play the same way and play with the same fire, and he'll be put into a bunch of defensive situations," Bednar said of Lindholm. "He's a good defender, skates well and competes hard."
Detroit: Left wing Henrik Zetterberg
With 14 goals and 41 assists this season, Zetterberg reached the 50-point mark for the 10th time in his career, and he's one goal away from matching Norm Ullman for sixth on Detroit's all-time list. He's registered 30 points (eight goals, 22 assists) in 39 career games against the Avalanche, the fourth-most points by a Red Wings player against Colorado.
Calvin Pickard will make his fifth consecutive start on Wednesday, the second of his career against the Red Wings. He is 1-0-0 against the Wings, making 34 saves in a 2-1 shootout win in Detroit on Dec. 21, 2014.
Bednar noted that Cody Goloubef and Patrick Wiercioch will be the healthy defensive scratches in Wednesday's game and was still working on determining who would not be in the lineup among the forward group.
The start time for Wednesday's game has changed from 8 p.m. MT to a 7:30 p.m. MT puck drop, and tickets are still available. The game can be watched live on Altitude TV, and the radio broadcast is on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.