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Preview: Game 50- Avalanche @ Bruins

Monday afternoon at TD Garden, the Colorado Avalanche visit the Boston Bruins in the conclusion of their regular season series– in which the Avs are in the midst of their second-longest road winning streak in club history at seven games.

Colorado’s longest road win streak in franchise history was set during the 2019-20 season when the Avs won nine consecutive games on the road from Feb. 4-March 2, 2020.

The last time the Avalanche won seven straight road games was back in the 1998-99 season, when Colorado won seven games away from home from Jan. 10-Feb. 7, 1999.

Boston, on the other hand, is coming off of a, 3-2, overtime win in Ottawa on Saturday– having finished their four-game road trip with a 2-1-1 record.

On Jan. 26th, the Bruins lost, 4-3, in overtime at Ball Arena as the Avalanche continued their franchise record 18-game home win streak in the process.

B’s head coach, Bruce Cassidy, told reporters after practice on Sunday that Jeremy Swayman would likely get the start in the crease after consulting with goaltending coach, Bob Essensa, and that Derek Forbort would return to the lineup after serving as a healthy scratch in the win against the Senators.

As a result of Forbort returning to action, Connor Clifton will likely return to the press box for Monday’s matinée matchup.

The Bruins will be without the services of Jakub Zboril and Brad Marchand as Zboril remains out for the rest of the season due to his right ACL injury, while Marchand will serve the sixth game out of his six-game suspension on Monday for his antics against Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender, Tristan Jarry, back on Feb. 8th.

Linus Ullmark is expected to serve as Swayman’s backup against Colorado, while Anton Blidh likely remains out of the lineup with Marchand out until Feb. 24th amidst other temporary roster adjustments.

For instance, Cassidy remains committed to Charlie Coyle as the second line center with Trent Frederic at left wing and Craig Smith on right wing while Taylor Hall is required to fill-in for Marchand on the first line alongside Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

As a result, Erik Haula was slotted on the left side of Jack Studnicka in Ottawa while Nick Foligno served as the third line right wing.

Jake DeBrusk scored a goal in Saturday’s win and played alongside fourth line regulars, Tomáš Nosek and Curtis Lazar, leaving no room for Blidh to get back into the lineup until Marchand returns, at least.

In summary, Boston will likely be without Zboril, Marchand, Blidh and Clifton on Monday.

The Bruins (28-17-4, 60 points) enter Monday 4th place in the Atlantic Division and in command of the second wild card berth in the Eastern Conference, while Coloardo leads the Central Division, Western Conference as well as the entire National Hockey League standings with a 36-9-4 record (76 points).

Both teams have played in 49 games and will take part in their 50th game of the season against one another.

Boston is 15-10-1 at home this season and 4-4-2 in their last ten games, while the Avalanche are 15-6-2 on the road and 8-1-1 in their last ten games.

The Bruins are 73-58-15-3 in 149 regular season games against the Avalanche/Québec Nordiques in franchise history with 557 goals for and 488 goals against in that span.

Marchand leads the B’s in scoring this season with 21-28–49 totals in 39 games played, while Pastrnak leads the team in goals (25) and ranks second in points (46) in 49 games.

Bergeron rounds out the top-three in team scoring with 35 points (12 goals, 23 assists) in 45 games.

A few milestones are within reach in Monday’s matinée meeting with the Avalanche.

Bergeron (20) is one shorthanded goal away from tying Don Marcotte (21) for the 4th-most shorthanded goals in franchise history, Coyle (198) is two assists away from his 200th career NHL assist and Haula (99) is one goal away from his 100th career NHL goal.

At the other end of the rink, the Avalanche are 13-2-1-1 in 17 games at TD Garden– outscoring the Bruins, 45-28, in that span– and 4-0-0 in day games this season.

Colorado is 12-2-1 in matinée games dating back to the start of the 2019-20 season.

Nazem Kadri leads the Avs in scoring so far this season with 63 points (21 goals, 42 assists) in 46 games, while Mikko Rantanen (26-32–58 totals in 46 games) and Cale Makar (18-32–50 totals in 45 games) round out the top-three on the roster.

Makar had an assist in Colorado’s, 5-3, win at Buffalo on Saturday and reached the 50-point plateau for his second time in three seasons (he’s yet to appear in 57 or more games in a regular season thus far) and did so in his 45th game of the season.

He trails only Brian Leetch (38 games in 1991-92, 43 games in 1990-91), Mike Green (43 games in 2008-09), Gary Suter (44 games in 1987-88) and Steve Duchesne (44 games in 1988-89) among defenders aged 23 or younger in reaching 50 points in as few games since 1986-87.

In the crease, Swayman (10-7-3, 2.14 goals-against average, .923 save percentage in 21 games played) is expected to get the start for the Bruins after making 29 saves on 31 shots faced in Saturday’s, 3-2, overtime win in Ottawa.

Darcy Kuemper (25-5-2, 2.40 goals-against average, .920 save percentage in 35 games played) is likely to get the start for the Avalanche after making 29 saves on 32 shots faced in Saturday’s, 5-3, win against the Sabres in Buffalo.

He made 29 saves on 32 shots against in Colorado’s, 4-3, overtime victory against Boston on Jan. 26th, while Ullmark turned aside 37 out of 41 shots faced in the overtime loss for the B’s.

The Bruins host the Avalanche before embarking on a six-game road trip through Seattle, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Vegas and Columbus, while Colorado finishes up a four-game road trip in Detroit on Wednesday after Monday’s matinée in Boston.

Expected lineups

Boston Bruins

BRUINS LINES

71 Taylor Hall 37 Patrice Bergeron (C) 88 David Pastrnak (A)

11 Trent Frederic 13 Charlie Coyle 12 Craig Smith

56 Erik Haula 23 Jack Studnicka 17 Nick Foligno

74 Jake DeBrusk 92 Tomáš Nosek 20 Curtis Lazar

58 Urho Vaakanainen 73 Charlie McAvoy

48 Matt Grzelcyk 25 Brandon Carlo (A)

28 Derek Forbort 6 Mike Reilly

1 Jeremy Swayman

35 Linus Ullmark

Healthy scratches and injured members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

John Moore (unlisted), Brad Marchand (suspension), Jakub Zboril (right ACL), Connor Clifton, Anton Blidh

Colorado Avalanche

92 Gabriel Landeskog (C) 29 Nathan MacKinnon (A) 96 Mikko Rantanen (A)

13 Valeri Nichuskin 91 Nazem Kadri 95 Andre Burakovsky

17 Tyson Jost 37 J.T. Compher 16 Nicolas Aube-Kubel

43 Darren Helm 18 Alex Newhook 25 Logan O’Connor

7 Devon Toews 8 Cale Makar

3 Jack Johnson 49 Samuel Girard

28 Ryan Murray 6 Erik Johnson

35 Darcy Kuemper

39 Pavel Francouz

Healthy scratches and injured members (officially TBA, below is only a prediction based on last game)

Bowen Byram (upper body), Stefan Matteau (IR), Kurtis MacDermid

Goaltending stats entering Monday

Boston Bruins

1 Jeremy Swayman 10-7-3 in 21 GP, 2.14 GAA .923 SV%, 2 SO

35 Linus Ullmark 16-8-1 in 26 GP, 2.79 GAA .909 SV%, 0 SO

Colorado Avalanche

35 Darcy Kuemper 25-5-2 in 35 GP, 2.40 GAA, .920 SV%, 3 SO

39 Pavel Francouz 7-2-0 in 9 GP, 2.39 GAA, .921 SV%, 2 SO

By Nick Lanciani

Three years in live sports production (TV/radio), a degree in communication, a minor in sport management and yet I paint things in my spare time to distract myself from my unemployment. Anyway, I write stuff on Down the Frozen River, make/appear on podcasts, used to write stuff for Couch Guy Sports and still apply to jobs for a living.