The NHL schedule makers might have done the Colorado Avalanche a favor by giving the team an opportunity at redemption and a chance to turn the season around within a week.
Six days after, according to head coach Patrick Roy, "getting embarrassed" in a 6-2 loss in Winnipeg, the Avs will host the Jets this evening at Pepsi Center with payback in the form of a win on their minds.
"We know what they are all about," said Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog. "They are a good team for sure… They are playing hard, but I think for us we know what we have to do. We have to get back on track. We want to end this drought right here, and there is no better way to do it than against the Jets."
Winnipeg outshot Colorado 37-22 in the second of five meetings last Friday—and the second of a back-to-back for the Avs after playing in Calgary the night before—but the majority of that game was within reach for the Avalanche.
The turning point came in a 2:02 span sandwiched around the second intermission. The Jets' Andrew Ladd scored with 45 seconds left in the second period before Bryan Little tallied twice in the first 1:17 of the third to break open the close game.
"They got us on the second game of a back-to-back, and they came out hard. They scored a big goal at the end of the second period," Landeskog said. "Before that I thought we were scratching and clawing, making sure that we were still in that game, and they took over in the third."
The Jets have gained a reputation of being a tough, physical squad and the numbers this year back it up. Winnipeg leads the league with 429 penalty minutes this season, averaging 15.1 PIMs through the first 29 games.
The Avalanche also considers itself a physical club, and showed it with its play and the 27 penalty minutes it acquired in Friday's third period. Overall, the first 40 minutes of last week's game was actually pretty tame until the clubs combined for 62 penalty minutes in the third period.
Roy said it was expected that the physicality would be amped up last Friday after the Jets tallied four straight goals, but he also noted that game is now in the past.
"I thought we were under control," Roy said of his team's physical play in the third period in Winnipeg. "Yes we showed our presence and I think it's normal, but tonight is a new game and I'm not thinking about what happened in that game.
"Just want to make sure that we play our game tonight. I thought we had a good morning skate. Guys seem to be enthusiastic. Let's play the game tonight."
However, the Avs seem to be prepared if there is any carry over to tonight's matchup from that third period in Winnipeg.
"We've got to be ready for anything, but I think emotion is good for the team and we'll see what happens," said forward Maxime Talbot.
Colorado can match Winnipeg's toughness, but the team also wants to be smart and use its skill. That means taking advantage of power-play opportunities and using speed to go around the Jets instead of right through them.
"We're a physical team as well, but at the same time we feel like we can use our speed," Landeskog said. "We feel that we have changed some things and have talked about a few things that can help us get the advantage. Playing more in the O-zone, playing with that grit, protect the puck down there and use our speed and take it to the net."
EVERBERG ACTIVATED FROM IR
There is some good news on the injury front for the Avalanche, as it appears the club will get one of its injured players back this evening.
The team activated Dennis Everberg from the IR list earlier today after an eight-game absence with a shoulder injury. With Colorado presently having nine players hurt, Everberg will likely be in the lineup against the Jets.
"I feel good," Everberg said after morning skate. "It was a struggle sitting out with an injury. It's never fun sitting out so it's good to get back out there."
Everberg, who had tallied a goal and three assists in 13 games before getting hurt Nov. 20 against Washington, appears to have returned to the lineup ahead of schedule. Roy said earlier in the week that he didn't expect Everberg to be back until later in the month.
"I'm probably young and heal good, I guess," said Everberg with a laugh.
To make room on the active roster, the Avalanche placed John Mitchell (leg) on injured reserve (retroactive to Nov. 29).
McGINN HAS SUCCESSFUL SURGERY
Roy said after morning skate that forward Jamie McGinn had successful back surgery on Wednesday, and the team will see how he rehabs in upcoming weeks before determining if he'll miss the remainder of the season.
"It went really well. The doctors were really happy," Roy said. "For the next six weeks he won't do much. I wouldn't be surprised if his season is over, but we'll see how it goes. We'll know more in the next three or four weeks, and see how his back reacts. We're certainly not going to push him."
McGinn missed all of the Avalanche's training camp and preseason schedule because of pain in his back, but he was able to making the team's opening-night roster and play in the first 19 games of the season.