Revenge Not A Factor For Avalanche
The Avs' focus against the Oilers is to just play their game
It was one of a few lowlights so far this season for the Colorado Avalanche, an 8-2 loss to the Oilers two weeks ago in Edmonton.
The Avs played into the Oilers' up-tempo style of game that night, but even then the contest was fairly close, despite what the final score read.
Colorado nearly erased a three-goal, first-period deficit early in the second and was only down 4-2 after 40 minutes. Three of Edmonton's goals came in the final five minutes when the game was already in hand.
It would be easy for the Avalanche to have a revenge-type mindset for tonight's meeting against the Oilers at Pepsi Center, but that's not the approach Colorado is taking. The team has hardly even talked about that Dec. 5 game and is looking at this evening's contest just like any other midseason one against an in-conference opponent.
"We haven't talked about it so far," Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog. "We've watched clips on their penalty kill and their power play, but that is about it from that game. Other then that we are focusing just like any other game on what we have to do, and what we have to do to beat these guys."
Head coach Patrick Roy said after today's morning skate that he is just looking for his squad to play a "good game" and build some momentum for three upcoming road games.
"It's hard not to think about it, but at the same time I haven't brought it up, and it's not in my intention as well. I don't believe in revenge in our games," Roy said. "Right now, I just want to see us play a good game. The fact that we're going on the road tomorrow, and we play in LA and then after we have San Jose and on the 27th we play Chicago; it would be great going on the road with a good win tonight."
While Roy hasn't specifically brought up that last Oilers game, defenseman Erik Johnson said the players are still aware of that final outcome and don't want to see it repeated.
"We have to take care of this game tonight," Johnson said. "It's a really big game, and we know what happened last game in Edmonton, and we don't want that to happen again. We want to be on the other end of that."
The Oilers have lost their last four games and are looking to avoid their fourth five-game losing of the season. Colorado is Edmonton's last stop of a four-game road trip, and it has scored only two goals and been shutout twice in its previous three contests.
Edmonton will likely want to use its speed and try to get some early goals to force the Avs into play their game once again. To combat that, Landeskog said the club would need to have a good forecheck early on.
"We want to get on that forecheck as quick as possible, and that's when we can hurt teams and that's when we can wear them down in their zone," Landeskog said. "We get on the forecheck, we're strong in that zone and protect that puck, if we do that in the first five minutes and the first period, we'll tire them out pretty quick."
AVALANCHE SPOTLIGHT ON: ERIK JOHNSON
Colorado defenseman Erik Johnson will look to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games tonight against the Edmonton Oilers.
Shots: 56 | +/-: 18
"It's always nice to get rewarded," Johnson said. "There are a lot of times when you get a lot of good opportunities and the puck is not going in. Sometimes you get bland opportunities and it goes in. For me, I capitalized on some chances, I got some great passes from teammates and fortunately for me it found the back of the net."
The Bloomington, Minn., native leads Colorado in average ice time at 22:21 per game and is second in plus/minus with a plus-18 rating, which is tied for fifth most in the NHL.
MORE MORNING NOTES
-Goaltender Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net tonight for the Avalanche.
-After missing his first game of the season on Tuesday in Dallas, defenseman Nate Guenin will be back in the Colorado lineup this evening. He will replace Nick Holden.
-Defenseman Ryan Wilson is making progress in his conditioning, and Roy said he could play Saturday in Los Angeles. Roy said he still wants to check with strength and conditioning coach Casey Bond before he plays Wilson, who injured his back on Nov. 6 against Nashville. Wilson is fully healed from the injury and was activated from injured reserve on Dec. 14, but Roy wanted to get his conditioning up before he played him in a game. He has been skating before many of the Avalanche's practices with defense development consultant Adam Foote.
-Avs center Matt Duchene has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last four games. He has scored 97 career goals and is three away from becoming the ninth player in Avalanche history to reach the century mark.
-The Avalanche and Oilers are meeting for the second time this season and the first and only time in Denver. They will finish the season series on April 8 in Edmonton. This year marks the first time since the Avs relocated from Quebec that Colorado and Edmonton will not compete as division rivals. These two teams faced off as Northwest Division foes for 14 seasons (1998-99 to 2012-13) and Pacific Division foes for three years prior to that (1995-96 to 1997-98).