The Colorado Avalanche are stuck in a 3-game losing streak. They look to end it against the defending champs in Tampa.

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The Colorado Avalanche were the odds-on preseason favorite to wint it all. The Tampa Bay Lightning are the defending back-to-back champs. Neither team has displayed that dominance through 4 games in the 2021/2022 season. The Avalanche sit at 1-3 after 3 straight listless losses. The Lightning sit at 2-2 after consecutive losses of their own.

I don’t know of anyone that believes the early season struggles for either of these teams to continue for any extended period of time. But it sure has bandwagoners ready to jump ship on both sides. If you truly understand hockey, you know both rosters are far too stacked to struggle indefinitely.

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The Avalanche have had buzzsaw of early opponents with the undefeated Panthers and Blues. And the one-loss Capitals. That is not an excuse, this is still supposed to be the best team in the league. But through 4 games, they have been thoroughly outplayed both at home and on the road.

Despite having Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog back, this Avalanche squad is still down Valeri Nichushkin and Devon Teows. Those are two underrated keys to this roster. Nichushkin gives you size and scoring ability. Toews brought another speed and scoring element to the roster. The good news is Friday Toews was removed from the injury report. Which means he should play Saturday.

Outside of PP%, these teams are almost identical to start. Look at this team comparison courtesy of Yahoo! Sports:

This should be a game where the Avalanche can get back right against a team experiencing similar struggles. But it could just be a continuance of their recent ineptitude. I like to stay on the positive side of things as much as possible. So I will take the improved physical play, and better goaltending as a sign for better things to come.

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Final Prediction:

Colorado 3 – Tampa Bay 2

Key Players:

MacKinnon/Landeskog: For this team to get back on track, the Mack Attack and Captain must step up and show why they are 2 of the best in the business. They need to show Sakic picking Landy over Grub was the right move.

Devon Toews: If he is fully healthy and can play. Can him and the top line reignite the magic they created after the trade last year?

Darcy Kuemper: Can the vet rebound to his game 1 form after a night off?

Key Stats:

1

Just like last game, this is Mack/Landy goals combined through 4 games. This must change Saturday.

Hits/Face Off Battle

In the only game the Avs won both (Game 1) they won the game. It seems if they outmuscle at the point, they win at the net. Then the game.

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