NHL: Avalanche visit Nashville looking to continue road success
The Colorado Avalanche are on the road again — which lately is a good thing for them.
Colorado has dropped its last two home games but has won three in a row on the road, so playing anywhere but Denver is a good thing for the defending champion.
It is a quick one-game trip for the Avalanche, who visit the Nashville Predators on Friday afternoon.
Colorado could be short-handed due to another injury suffered in the 4-3 loss to Vancouver on Wednesday night. Forward Evan Rodrigues sustained a lower-body injury in the first period and didn’t return. He took a shot to his right skate, went down and had to be helped off the ice.
“We made it through one (period),” coach Jared Bednar said.
Colorado has been dealing with injuries all season and Rodrigues joins the list of top-six forwards sidelined. The Avalanche nearly lost leading goal scorer Mikko Rantanen after he took a stick to the face in the second period but he returned.
Bednar said Thursday after practice that Rodrigues has a “lower-body tweak” and won’t make the trip for Friday’s game but there is no timeline yet for his return.
“We’re waiting on news from the doc but he’s feeling OK,” Bednar said.
With so many forwards missing Colorado has had to poach its American Hockey League franchise for bodies.
On Wednesday, it was Oskar Olausson who got the opportunity. Olausson, who just turned 20, was taken in the first round of the 2021 draft by the Avalanche and made his NHL debut in the loss.
Olausson played on the second line, which Bednar thought would fit his skill set better than being on a checking or grinding line.
“Young players coming up, they’re — generally speaking — bigger, stronger, faster than some of the guys they’ve been playing against their whole lives. So they create offense,” Bednar said.
Nashville is coming off a 3-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night that ended a five-game point streak. The Predators were 4-0-1 prior to losing at Detroit, with their last regulation loss coming against Colorado on Nov. 10.
Nashville and the Avalanche have developed somewhat of a rivalry, aside from playing in the same division. The Predators beat Colorado in the first round of the playoffs in 2018, and last spring the Avalanche returned the favor.
Nashville has rebounded after a slow start to the season and is 6-3-1 in its last 10 games. The Predators scored 15 goals during their five-game point streak before being shut out by the Red Wings.
It was just the second time this season Nashville has been blanked, with the other coming against Washington, also a 3-0 loss.
Coach John Hynes thinks his team can rebound quickly from the loss to Detroit.
“We’ll take some things from this game. And I think there’s lots of good in the game, so some things we can build off of,” he said Wednesday night. “And I think there’s some things particularly to Colorado that we’ve got to make sure we’re ready for going into (Friday).”
–Field Level Media