St. Louis at Colorado
When: 8:00 PM
ET, Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
Semyon Varlamov resumed practicing with Colorado over the weekend, and will likely be in goal for the first time since Dec. 5 when the Avalanche host the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday in their final contest before the Christmas break. Coach Patrick Roy has made it clear that once Varlamov overcomes his groin injury, he will resume his role as No. 1 goaltender despite the hot play of rookie backup Calvin Pickard. Varlamov missed 12 of the last 14 contests - a pair of six-game stretches, but Colorado hopes a change in strategy for his treatment and recovery will keep the 2013-14 Vezina Trophy finalist on the ice.
"We're doing the opposite than the last time, which means he's going to be less on the ice, more in the gym," Roy told the Denver Post. "Last time we did a lot of ice, not much gym. Now he's doing a lot in the gym and hopefully that will solve that problem." The Avalanche try to win three in a row for the first time this season after a 5-1 decision in Buffalo on Saturday and a 2-1 shootout victory in Detroit on Sunday, with Pickard (6-5-2, 2.06 goals-against average, .939 save percentage) playing in both contests. St. Louis dropped the first two tilts of its three-game road trip, including 3-2 to San Jose in overtime Saturday.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, NBC Sports
ABOUT THE BLUES (21-9-3): St. Louis, which tries for its fourth straight victory in Denver, has blown third-period leads in its last two games. “For us, if we want to not pretend that we’re an upper-echelon team, (but be) an upper-echelon team, we have to close out games,” Blues forward Steve Ott told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Vladimir Tarasenko, whose 20 goals and 37 points pace the Blues, had his seven-game point streak (six goals, five assists) snapped Sunday.
ABOUT THE AVALANCHE (12-13-8): Colorado comes home loaded with confidence after a 2-0-1 road trip began with a 1-0 loss in overtime to Pittsburgh. John Mitchell returned to the lineup Saturday after missing seven games with a leg injury and was inserted on a line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay (team-leading 11 goals), and the trio accounted for three goals and five assists. Colorado's other newly formed lines among its top nine forwards consist of Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Max Talbot, while captain Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly and Daniel Briere have also worked well together in the last two games.
1. Ott on Saturday broke a 58-game scoring drought - including all 54 since being acquired by St. Louis from Buffalo.
2. The Blues owned the NHL's top power-play unit through Sunday's action at 25.4 percent and are 4-for-6 in their last three games, while the Avalanche boast the No. 7 penalty-killing unit and have extinguished 13-of-15 short-handed situations in their last four contests.
3. The Blues won both previous meetings this season by 3-2 scores - one in a shootout and the other Dec. 13 in Denver on T.J. Oshie's overtime goal.
PREDICTION: Blues 2, Avalanche 1
Stats and Records