AVALANCHE (0-0-0) at RANGERS (0-0-0)
7 p.m. ET; MSG, ALT, NHL.TV
Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will make his New York Rangers debut at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Shattenkirk signed a four-year, $26.6 million contract as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Shattenkirk, who had an NHL career-high 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals last season, will play on the first pairing with captain Ryan McDonagh.
"I'm happy with how this morning has gone," Shattenkirk said. "I [don't] think really until tonight when I step out for warmups will I start to kind of realize what's going on and just be happy about it. I think it's going to be a fun night, get the nerves out of the way early and make sure after the first couple of shifts that I am just starting to play my game and help us win a game."
The Avalanche, who finished with the worst record in the League last season (22-56-4), are looking forward to a fresh start. They signed forward Alexander Kerfoot to a two-year, entry level contract on Aug. 24. Kerfoot was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth round (No. 150) of the 2012 NHL Draft, but didn't sign before the Aug. 15 deadline, making him a free agent. He'll be a wing on Colorado's second line with Nail Yakupov and center Matt Duchene.
"Couldn't think of a better place to play my first NHL game," said Kerfoot, 23. "I'm excited and just want to play well and help the team win. I wasn't expecting to be a top-six forward. I just wanted to come in and work as hard as I could and try to make the team and I am fortunate to be on the opening-night roster, but I know that I still have a lot of work to do."
Players to watch
Kerfoot, who had five points (two goals, three assists) in four preseason games, will look to continue the chemistry he developed with Duchene and Yakupov in training camp, and prove that he can handle playing a top-six role.
Rangers rookie Filip Chytil will center the second line between Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. The 18-year-old had three points (one goal, two assists) in four preseason games and impressed enough to make the roster.
They said it
"Last year is still lingering in our minds but at the same time we want to spit it out a bit if that makes sense. We are anxious to see what we can do and hope we have a great start tonight against the Rangers. -- Duchene on Colorado's 2016-17 season
"Everything we heard about him from St. Louis from the short time in Washington had been extremely positive about him being a team-first guy and I think he's definitely proven that in coming here. Less terms, less money, comes to his hometown team and he wants to be counted on. He wants to be the guy and I think that says a lot about his mental makeup. -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Shattenkirk
Avalanche projected lineup
Sven Andrighetto -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen
Nail Yakupov -- Matt Duchene -- Alexander Kerfoot
Gabriel Landeskog -- J.T. Compher -- Colin Wilson
Matt Nieto -- Tyson Jost -- Blake Comeau
Mark Barberio -- Erik Johnson
Patrik Nemeth -- Tyson Barrie
Andrei Mironov -- Chris Bigras
Scratched: Carl Soderberg, Nikita Zadorov
Injured: Sergei Boikov (shoulder), A.J. Greer (concussion)
Rangers projected lineup
Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich
Rick Nash -- Filip Chytil -- Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner -- Kevin Hayes -- J.T. Miller
Jimmy Vesey -- David Desharnais -- Paul Carey
Ryan McDonagh -- Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei -- Brendan Smith
Marc Staal -- Tony DeAngelo
Scratched: Nick Holden, Steven Kampfer
Injured: Jesper Fast (hip)
Bednar said Zadorov, a restricted free agent defenseman who signed a two-year contract on Sept. 15, will be scratched. "Based on what we've seen through training camp, he came in a little late and has some catching up to do."
The Rangers are 3-0-0 in their past three regular-season openers and 8-3-1 in their past 12. ... Shattenkirk had five assists in two games against the Avalanche last season. ... Zuccarello has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in nine games against Colorado. ... The Avalanche are 20-10-7 (.635) in season openers, the second best winning percentage in NHL history (Tampa Bay Lightning, 15-7-2, .667).