Blues A Good Division Test For Avalanche

Colorado looks to avoid its first losing streak of the season tonight in St. Louis

Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 4:52 PM
Ron Knabenbauer

The Avalanche has been able to bounce back and return to the win column after its previous two losses this season.

Colorado will look to do it again tonight in St. Louis versus the division rival Blues (6 p.m. MT, TV: Altitude).

The Avs are 3-1-0 against their division this season, but the contest with the Blues will be the club's first test to see how they matchup against a divisional opponent that made the postseason last year.

"We know it's going to be tough tonight, but it’s a big one, a division opponent and St. Louis has been playing well," captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "It's a big matchup, and we want to show them we're for real."

Colorado is off to its best start through 17 games in franchise history at 14-3-0 (28 points), but Central Division foes Chicago (12-2-4, 28 points), Minnesota (11-4-4, 26 points) and St. Louis (11-2-3, 25 points) have also had good starts to their seasons.

Forward John Mitchell said being able to get up by a few points against a division rival would be huge for the team going forward for the rest of the season.

"It's obviously a four-point swing, win or lose," Mitchell said. "It's big for us, and we want to keep climbing in the standings and get ahead of these teams that are in our division. There is no better way, especially when you're playing a division opponent to get two points from them and put them in a hole by two points."

The Avalanche has had the edge over the Blues since December 2009 as its 11-3-1 in the last 15 meetings. However, the Blues hold a 0-3-1 mark over the Avs in the last four games in St. Louis.

Colorado lost 2-1 on Tuesday at Carolina and the players admitted afterwards that the team didn't get off to its best start against the Hurricanes.

Landeskog said the Avs would look to get back to having a good start tonight and avoid their first losing streak of the season.

"We want to bounce back as quick as possible, and we want to get back in that win column as quick as possible," Landeskog said. "It's a lot of fun when you're winning, and once you do start winning you want to have that feeling every time."

JIGGY EYEING FRANCHISE RECORD

Jean-Sebastien Giguere is expected to be the starting goaltender for the Avalanche tonight and will have the chance to write his name in the franchise record books. With a win this evening Giguere would become the first goalie in franchise history to start a season 6-0.

The Montreal, Quebec native enters the game against the Blues with a 5-0-0 record, a 1.00 goals-against average and a .970 save-percentage. He also has two shutouts this season against two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, Oct. 10 at Boston (2-0) and Oct. 21 at Pittsburgh (1-0).

Giguere's current five-game winning streak matches the longest in franchise history. He is one victory shy of tying his career-long winning streak of six games, which the netminder has done twice before (last: Oct. 21-Nov. 4, 2008).

All-time, Giguere ranks 45th in NHL history in both wins (256) and appearances (580). He is tied with Tom Barrasso and Sean Burke for 37th place on the NHL’s all-time shutout list (38). Among active netminders, Giguere is sixth in games, seventh in shutouts and ninth in wins.

Giguere and Semyon Varlamov have made quite the goaltending duo for the Avalanche this season. Colorado leads all NHL teams in save percentage (.944), while ranking second in goals-against average (1.76), goals allowed (30) and goal differential (+25). The Avs have held the opposition to two goals or fewer in 15 of their 17 games.

STASTNY VS. HOMETOWN TEAM

Paul Stastny might have been born in Quebec City, Quebec, but the Avalanche center considers himself an American after growing up in the Midwest and the St. Louis, Mo., area.

Stastny has actually fared pretty well against his "hometown team" as he has 26 points (10 goals and 16 assists) in 21 career games against the Blues.

He enters tonight's game against St. Louis on a four-game point streak (three goals and an assist) and needs just two points to tie Valeri Kamensky (414) for eighth place all time on the franchise's scoring list. Stastny scored Colorado's only goal Tuesday night in Carolina and moved into a tie with Dale Hunter for eighth on the franchise's all-time goals list (142).

MORE MORNING NOTES

-Tonight is the first of four meetings between the Avalanche and Blues this season, as these two clubs are competing in the same division for the first time. Colorado won two of the three matchups last year, going 2-0 at home and 0-1 in St. Louis.

-The Avs are 11-3-1 in their last 15 games against the Blues dating back to December of 2009.

-All-time, the Avalanche/Nordiques are 53-46-11-2 against the Blues, which includes a 39-21-6-2 mark since moving to Denver.

-Nathan MacKinnon tied the franchise record for shots by a rookie in a single game with nine on Tuesday night in Carolina. He equaled the mark set twice by Gabriel Landeskog during the 2011-12 season.

-Erik Johnson logged a club season-high 28:57 of ice time on Tuesday at Carolina, the second-most minutes of his career (29:22 on April 1, 2011 at Phoenix).

-Matt Duchene has 10 points (5g/5a) in his last eight contests.

-Gabriel Landeskog has 14 points (6g/8a) in his last 13 games.

-Jan Hejda, who leads the team with a +16 rating, has had only one "minus" game all season. Hejda was a "plus" player in seven consecutive games (+14) from Oct. 25 to Nov. 10, the first Avalanche player to be "plus" in seven or more consecutive games since Cody McLeod in 2009-10.

-Colorado has yet to allow a power-play goal on the road, going 20-for-20 in seven games away from home. The Avs and Blues (15-for-15) are the NHL's only perfect PK teams on the road. Overall, the Avalanche's penalty killing ranks among the NHL's top five at 88.7% (47/53). The Avs had been the No. 1 ranked PK unit for two weeks from Oct. 22 to Nov. 5.

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