The Colorado Avalanche will have a few new faces in its lineup when it opens the 2020-21 season tonight against the St. Louis Blues at Ball Arena.
Forward Brandon Saad and defenseman Devon Toews will make their Avalanche debuts after the club acquired them in the offseason. Saad, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, is likely to be on the second line with Gabriel Landeskog and Nazem Kadri, while Toews will begin the contest on a pairing with Cale Makar.
Goaltender Philipp Grubauer is expected to get the start in net, his second career NHL opening night start. He stopped 27 of the 30 shots he faced in Colorado's 5-3 win in the 2019-20 opener against the Calgary Flames.
Rookie Conor Timmins will play in his second consecutive opener after making his NHL debut last season. Head Coach Jared Bednar noted after morning skate that Timmins will begin the game on a duo with Samuel Girard, a pairing that was consistent throughout Colorado's training camp.
Tonight's game marks the start of Bednar's fifth campaign as the Avalanche's head coach. The Avs are 4-0-0 in season openers under the bench boss, and with a win tonight Bednar can become the sixth head coach in NHL history to win his first five career opening-night games.
This morning the Avs announced their roster and taxi squad to begin the year, and the only member of the team that is not available to play tonight against the Blues is defenseman Erik Johnson, who is out due to COVID protocols following a positive test.
On the taxi squad are forwards Shane Bowers, Martin Kaut, Logan O'Connor and Kiefer Sherwood, defenseman Dennis Gilbert and goaltender Hunter Miska.
Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup, with the forward combinations and defensive pairings based on the alignment from recent practices. They are subject to change.
95 Andre Burakovsky - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 91 Nazem Kadri - 20 Brandon Saad
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 37 J.T. Compher - 72 Joonas Donskoi
17 Tyson Jost - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 11 Matt Calvert
7 Devon Toews - 8 Cale Makar
49 Samuel Girard - 22 Conor Timmins
27 Ryan Graves - 28 Ian Cole
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz
Injury Report: Erik Johnson (illness)
Taxi Squad: Shane Bowers, Dennis Gilbert, Martin Kaut, Hunter Miska, Logan O'Connor, Kiefer Sherwood