The Colorado Avalanche mixed up its forward lines for its New Year's Day practice, and the club will use those combinations for its first game of 2020 tonight versus the St. Louis Blues.
Head coach Jared Bednar confirmed the change this morning and said that the only trio that will remain the same from Tuesday's contest against the Winnipeg Jets is the top one with Nathan MacKinnon, Joonas Donskoi and Gabriel Landeskog.
"The MacKinnon line was outstanding last game, generated a lot of chances. They were pretty good on the defensive side of things, but they were on pucks," Bednar said. "Traffic to the net, getting quality scoring chances plus secondary chances from checking the puck back and just being hard in all the right areas and getting to the interior of the ice so we will leave them together."
Matt Calvert, Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin will make up another line, while Matt Nieto and Mikko Rantanen will join a J.T. Compher-centered group. Colorado's fourth line is expected to be Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Andre Burakovsky and Tyson Jost, but Vladislav Kamenev also practiced with that unit on Wednesday.
"The reason you are mixing it up in the first place is because it hasn't been working to the level that we would like it to," Bednar said. "We talked about it last week, trying to be patient with that and the lines and getting them together and helping find chemistry, but you don't want to be too patient either. We haven't done what we want to do in the last handful of games, so we are going to give them a different look and see how things work out."
Bednar did not say who the scratches will be, but Kamenev and Mark Barberio are expected to sit.
Philipp Grubauer was the first goaltender off the ice from today's optional morning skate and will guard the pipes for a third straight game.
Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup for its third game of the season against the Blues. All forward combinations and defensive pairings are subject to change.
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 72 Joonas Donskoi
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 91 Nazem Kadri - 11 Matt Calvert
83 Matt Nieto - 37 J.T. Compher - 96 Mikko Rantanen
17 Tyson Jost - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 95 Andre Burakovsky
27 Ryan Graves - 8 Cale Makar
49 Samuel Girard - 6 Erik Johnson
28 Ian Cole - 16 Nikita Zadorov
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz
Healthy Scratches: Mark Barberio, Vladislav Kamenev
Injury Report: Colin Wilson (lower body, out indefinitely)