For the third time in franchise history and for the second consecutive season, the Colorado Avalanche will play an outdoor matchup as the team takes on the Vegas Golden Knights this afternoon on the 18th fairway of the Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nevada.
Colorado hosted the Detroit Red Wings in the 2016 Stadium Series at Coors Field (5-3 loss) and the Los Angeles Kings a year ago at the 2020 Stadium Series at the U.S. Air Force Academy (3-1 loss). The Avalanche is the fifth team to play an outdoor game in consecutive seasons and the first since Toronto in 2016-17 and 2017-18.
The Avalanche is expected to have a few players return to the lineup in the open-air matchup as forwards Matt Calvert, Tyson Jost, Gabriel Landeskog and defensemen Samuel Girard and Cale Makar are all eligible to play.
Makar has missed the past two games with an upper-body injury, and Calvert last played on Jan. 24 at the Anaheim Ducks and has been out for seven contests with his own upper-body injury. Girard, Jost and Landeskog were all sidelined while in the NHL COVID protocol, and Jost and Landeskog have had two full practices with the team since returning while Girard's first day back on the ice was Friday.
"Makar will be a game-time decision for us, but all the other guys, the COVID guys that were out under protocol are all eligible to play, including Sam Girard," said head coach Jared Bednar following Friday's practice at the outdoor rink. "But I am not announcing our lineup yet today, you guys will just have to wait and see I guess."
Philipp Grubauer is expected to make his second start in an NHL outdoor game and his 12th of the year. The German netminder made 14 saves in the 2020 Stadium Series at the Air Force Academy against the Kings before leaving the game with an injury.
Eighteen current Avalanche players have participated in an NHL outdoor game, led by Brandon Saad and Nazem Kadri (today is their fourth playing) while Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon are expected to be the only players to participate in all three of Colorado's outdoor conotests.
Today's outing also marks the third of four straight matchups between the Avalanche and Golden Knights. They split the first two meetings, both one-goal contests, and will conclude the four-game set on Monday at Ball Arena in Denver.
Below is the Avalanche's projected lineup based on the forward combinations and defensive pairings from Thursday's practice. They are subject to change.
95 Andre Burakovsky - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
20 Brandon Saad - 91 Nazem Kadri - 72 Joonas Donskoi
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 37 J.T. Compher - 25 Logan O'Connor
13 Valeri Nichushkin and/or 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and/or 11 Matt Calvert and/or 17 Tyson Jost
4 Bowen Byram - 7 Devon Toews
27 Ryan Graves - 8 Cale Makar
34 Jacob MacDonald and/or 22 Conor Timmins and/or 49 Samuel Girard
31 Philipp Grubauer
30 Adam Werner
Taxi Squad: Kyle Burroughs, Sheldon Dries, Peyton Jones, Jayson Megna, Dan Renouf
Injury Report: Dennis Gilbert (upper body), Erik Johnson (upper body), Pavel Francouz (lower body)