The Colorado Avalanche is back on the road Thursday night--taking on the Chicago Blackhawks at 6:30 p.m. MT--continuing a stretch that sees Colorado play five games through the first eight days of November.
The Avs began the month with a 5-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday and now look to rebound in another key Central Division matchup.
The team was at Family Sports on Wednesday before catching a flight to the Windy City, and head coach Jared Bednar said he was happy with the effort at practice after Tuesday's deflating loss.
"I thought we had a great practice today. Good energy, guys focused," he said. "The intensity, especially in the 5-on-5 drills, it was good. I liked where we're at today. We have to find a way to make sure we're doing that every day, not just after a loss."
Video: Kyle Keefe and Mark Mycroft preview the game
Last Time Out
The Avalanche (4-4-0, T-4th Central Division) fell to the Nashville Predators 5-1 on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center. Jarome Iginla scored the lone goal for the Avs and in the process broke, away from Al MacInnis to take sole possession of 35th on the NHL's all-time points list. Colorado's penalty kill was 4-for-5, allowing a power-play goal for the first time in 12 shorthanded situations.
Chicago (6-3-1, T-1st Central Division) also played on Tuesday and got a dominant performance from its top line of Patrick Kane (one goal, two assists), Artem Anisimov (one goal, one assist) and Artemi Panarin (one goal, one assist) en route to a 5-1 win over the Calgary Flames. It was the third straight win for the Blackhawks, who have gone on a 6-1-1 run since starting the season with a pair of losses.
Stacking Up: Offense and Defense
Colorado has averaged 2.50 goals per game, but in its four wins, the club has averaged 4.25 goals per game. The Blackhawks have scored 35 goals through their first 10 games of the season, ranking third in the league with 3.50 goals per game.
Chicago enters Thursday's matchup allowing 2.70 goals per game, while Colorado has let up an average of three goals per game through eight contests.
Stacking Up: Special Teams
The Avs' power play has been successful on 21.4 percent of its man-advantage opportunities, but has been slightly stronger on the road, cashing in at 23.5 percent and scoring four goals on 17 power plays. While Colorado allowed a power-play goal to Nashville and its top-ranked PP unit on Tuesday night, the Avs have still been successful in 20 of their last 22 times shorthanded.
Chicago's power play ranks eighth in the league (23.8 percent), but is clicking at a 27.6 percent success rate at home. The Blackhawks' penalty kill has allowed a league-high 15 goals this season, nine of which have come at United Center. Overall, they are 21-for-36 through 10 games, clocking in at a 58.3 percent success rate.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Defenseman Erik Johnson
Johnson has played with Nikita Zadorov as part of Colorado's top defensive pairing and his 23:09 of average time on ice per game leads all Avalanche skaters. He also paces the team in blocked shots with 19.
Chicago: Forwards Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane
Anisimov and Kane rank first and second (tied), respectively, in the league in scoring. Anisimov has recorded 13 points and his seven goals are tied with Tampa Bay's Steven Stamkos for the league lead. Kane has 12 points through Chicago's first 10 games and his nine assists are tied for second in the NHL.
The Avalanche is 45-27-8 against the Blackhawks since the 1995-96 season and 21-16-3 on the road.
Jarome Iginla's 26 career goals against Chicago are tied for 11th in NHL history against the team. In 26 career games against the Blackhawks, Matt Duchene has tallied 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists), which ranks fourth in Avalanche history, while Gabriel Landeskog's 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 21 career games are tied for eighth (Adam Foote).
Landeskog has scored three game-winning goals against the Blackhawks, which ties him with Alex Tanguay for first in Avalanche history.
Semyon Varlamov will make his seventh start of the season on Thursday. The netminder is 11-4-1 against Chicago in his career and all 16 starts have been as a member of the Avs. He owns a 7-2-0 record at United Center and has posted a 1.77 goals-against average and a .951 save percentage in the building.
Fedor Tyutin is expected to make his return to the lineup after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury. Following Wednesday's practice, Bednar was undecided as to whether Cody McLeod would crack Thursday night's lineup.
Puck drop Thursday evening is slated for 6:30 p.m. MT and the game can be watched live on Altitude TV or heard on 92.5 FM The Wolf and at ColoradoAvalanche.com.