Well, ladies and gentlemen, hockey is finally back.
Before the Stanley Cup playoffs officially begin, teams will have an opportunity to get their legs back under them with exhibition games leading into the weekend. Naturally, these tune-up games are being held between teams who have long storied and brand new rivalries. This is no exception for the Colorado Avalanche as they will take on the Minnesota Wild for a midday showdown.
The lone exhibition showdown against the Wild will be used to help players get their legs back under them, as the Avs prepare to battle for the top spot in the Western Conference, along with the St. Louis Blues, Dallas Stars, and the Vegas Golden Knights. Following their exhibition game against Minnesota, the Avalanche will begin their quest for the Western Conference crown against the defending Stanley Cup champions on Sunday, August 2 at 4:30 pm.
What to expect against Minnesota
I think once the players are able to knock off some rust after the first period, things could get fairly physical between the Avs and the Wild. Although it may not be on the same scale as Toronto vs Montreal or Calgary vs Edmonton, this is a rival for the Avalanche, and things can get heated quickly. However, I am only expecting a few hard hits and maybe a few post-whistle scuffles, as this is still only an exhibition game after all.
As reported by the Colorado Avalanche, there will be no experimenting with line combinations or testing players in particular situations. So with this in mind, look at the Avalanche to head into their exhibition showdown with the lineups they have recently been using, shown below.
Another thing fans can expect in the Avs exhibition showdown against Minnesota is to see both Pavel Francouz and Philipp Grubauer in the net at one point during the game against the Wild. It doesn’t matter who is starting the game, as both goaltenders will be in the net at one point of time against the Wild. Bednar has also stated that Grubauer and Francouz will split time in the net between the three round-robin games.
While it is not set in stone, there is also the strong possibility that we will see Bowen Byram play some minutes against the Minnesota Wild. After attending training camp last season, and playing in a few preseason games with the Avalanche, Byram tallied 52 points in 50 games for the Vancouver Giants.
With six games happening, it will be a full day of NHL hockey — something that fans have been waiting since March to say. In what should be an entertaining showdown, be sure to turn into Altitude or NHL Network to catch the Avalanche take on the Wild in their lone exhibition game at 12:30 p.m. MDT.