The Colorado Avalanche return home a little banged up. Las Vegas comes in depleted in what should have been a marquee matchup.

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The Colorado Avalanche draw another tough foe with an injury-depleted roster in their return to Ball Arena. Las Vegas comes into the Mile High City limping, both figuratively and literally. They have 9 players on the IL currently, with names varying from Zac Whitecloud to Max Pacioretty. They will not get the best of their division rival in this one.

The Colorado Avalanche have returned to the favorites and it’s easy to see why Vegas would turn against it’s own when you look at this team comparison courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

As much as I have made of the Avalanche’s struggles on the power-play. The Knights are one of only two teams that are worse. Vegas has yet to score a power-play goal this season. And one thing I probably haven’t talked about enough is the Avalanche Penalty Kill unit. They are stoning opponent power-plays at an 81.3% clip. That’s despite the sloppy play during their 3-game losing streak that has them middle of the pack in penalty minutes.

Not drawing penalties is one strength this Vegas team has shown in the early going. As evidenced by the graphic above showing they are 2nd in the league currently. This means we may not have to talk much about power-plays like in our other previews and reviews. But this is historically a heated rivalry, so that could counteract this balance.

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However this matchup ends up going, it will sure to be a hard-fought victory either way. Vegas has prided itself on its size and scoring ability. While the Avalanche has gone the speed and athleticism route. Which has always led to some exhilarating matchups. I’m not so sure Vegas has the bodies left to keep up in the thin air of Denver.

Key Stats:

5

That’s how many points MacKinnon has after his big game in Tampa. For the Avs to continue winning, he will need this to spark his own personal streak. As he goes, this team goes.

3.51

This is Darcy Kuemper’s current GAA, although he bounced back nicely against Tampa. He needs to get this much closer to his career average of 2.48. Avalanche fans should look forward to some market correction here.

Key Players:

Bo Byram: His fire against Tampa was wonderful to see and as I have stressed, this Knights team has been lightened. He will need to throw his weight around.

Cale Makar: Just like with Bo, can he continue the improved defensive effort and physical play he displayed against Tampa?

Mikko Rantanen: The current Avs Goal Leader is an underrated scoring asset this team deploys deftly. If he can continue this pace with the improved play of Mack and Landy, this team will show why they are the favorites for a second straight President’s Trophy.

Final Prediction:

Colorado 4 – Las Vegas 1

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