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Wild Warmup: Minnesota vs. Colorado

Black Friday matinee on tap as Wild hosts Central Division rival Avs in St. Paul

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers / Wild.com
The essentials

Who: Colorado Avalanche (11-8-1) at Minnesota Wild (10-8-3)

Puck drop: 3:08 p.m. CT

Watch: FOX Sports North, FOX Sports GO

Listen: KFAN 100.3 FM, Wild Radio NetworkWild NHL App

Follow: @mnwild; GameCenter


The opponent

Winners in three of their past four games, the Colorado Avalanche have been one of their biggest surprises of the NHL season so far.

Colorado has already won half as many games as it did all of last season and is one point shy of reaching half its points with still three quarters of the regular season remaining. The Avs' 48 points in 2016-17 were 21 points fewer than the next team in the Western Conference.

There are several reasons for Colorado's turnaround, but the biggest reasons has been offense; the Avalanche scored the fewest goals of any team (165) in the League last season but have jumped up to seventh in the NHL so far in 2017-18 (68) and is on pace to score more than 100 more goals this year than last.

Colorado's young core offensively took a hit when it traded away centerman Matt Duchene earlier this month, but others have helped pick up the slack. Nathan MacKinnon leads the team with 25 points in 20 games, including 18 assists. Mikko Rantanen has 19 points while captain Gabriel Landeskog leads the team with nine goals and has 16 points.

Six Avs players have scored at least five goals while none have reached double figures.

Semyon Varlamov has seen a bulk of the starts in goal, going 7-4-1 in 12 starts and posting a 3.23 goals-against average and a .903 save percentage. While those numbers rank near the bottom of the League among NHL starters, they're actually significantly better than they were last season, when Colorado allowed more goals than any team in the NHL. 


Connections

• Wild assistant coach Darby Hendrickson skated in 20 games with Colorado in 2003-04. 

• Wild defenseman Gustav Olofsson skated one season at Colorado College (2013-14).

• Wild defenseman Kyle Quincey played in 154 contests with the Avalanche in parts of three seasons, totaling 53 points (11-42=53) and 154 penalty minutes (2009-12).

• Wild forward Chris Stewart was drafted in the first round (18th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by Colorado and skated in 166 games, totaling 113 points (52-61=113) and 165 penalty minutes over three seasons with the Avalanche (2008-11).

• Wild forward Daniel Winnik collected 44 points (16-28=44) and 77 penalty minutes in 143 games with Colorado over parts of two seasons (2010-12).

• Wild forward Jason Zucker played two seasons at the University of Denver (2010-12).

• Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson is from Bloomington and played one season at the University of Minnesota.

• Avalanche forward Dominic Toninato is a Duluth native and played four seasons at University of Minnesota Duluth (2013-17).


Black Friday, white jerseys

The Wild will wear its white road jerseys on home ice on Friday against the Avalanche. 

The team will also be starting its "No Fees Weekend" promotion, beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Friday and extending through Cyber Monday (Nov. 27) at 11:59 p.m. 

Through this promotion, fans are able to purchase Wild home game tickets via Ticketmaster.com without any fees. The promotion is valid for all remaining Wild home games between Nov. 30 and April 2 (excluding Friday's game).
 
For additional information, visit www.wild.com/nofees.

Black Friday also includes 20 percent off select items at all Hockey Lodge locations through Sunday.

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