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Projected Lineup: Avalanche vs. Blackhawks

Mikko Rantanen expected to return to lineup

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

Mikko Rantanen is expected to make his return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup tonight when the Avs host the Chicago Blackhawks in a Division Rivalry matchup.

Rantanen has missed the past 16 games with a lower-body injury that he suffered at the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 21 but has been a full participant in practice since Tuesday.

The Nousiainen, Finland, native was tied for the club lead in points (12), goals (five) and game-winners (two) in nine games at the time of his injury.

Rantanen practiced on a line with Nathan MacKinnon and Joonas Donskoi on Thursday, but it is unknown if that trio will start the game together. MacKinnon and Donskoi skated with Matt Nieto on Friday in the first half of the back-to-back, home-and-home set with the Blackhawks.

Goaltender Philipp Grubauer is also anticipated to get the start in net after Pavel Francouz was between the pipes at United Center to open the two-game series.  

The Avs made two roster moves, reassigning forwards Sheldon Dries and A.J. Greer to the American Hockey League's Colorado Eagles. Dries played his first game of the year with the Avalanche on Friday and recorded seven hits and two blocked shots in 10:02 of ice time in the win.

Colorado did not hold a morning skate this morning, so the team's exact lineup won't be known until closer to puck drop.

Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup based on the forward combinations and defensive pairings from the start of the previous game at Chicago, with Rantanen taking Dries' place. They are expected to change.

Forwards

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
36 T.J. Tynan - 81 Vladislav Kamenev - 96 Mikko Rantanen

Defensemen

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

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

Healthy Scratch: Mark Barberio

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

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