Pittsburgh Penguins Gameday 9: Colorado Avalanche

Colorado Avalanche (7-1-0) @ Pittsburgh Penguins (7-1-0)
Root Sports, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2 – 7:30 pm/et 
Consol Energy Center – Pittsburgh, PA

There's a part of us/me that has kind of loved the Colorado Avalanche for a while. When the 1996 Florida Panthers eliminated the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final, they didn't just bring the scourge of flying rats to the game of hockey, they also robbed us all of a Pittsburgh/Colorado Stanley Cup Final. Sakic, Forsberg and Roy versus Lemieux, Jagr and Barrasso for the richest prize in the game never happened.

But now we have Sakic the executive vice-president and Roy the coach versus Lemieux the owner, so that's pretty good too.

And we also have The Battle of Cole Habour.

These two teams have identical 7-1-0 records, so it should be a good game. The Penguins have not yet lost at home. The Avalanche have not yet lost on the road.

No word yet on what Adrian Dater is mad about this time.


Leading Scorers:

Penguins: Sidney Crosby (7G, 10A: 17P)
Avalanche: Matt Duchene (6G, 3A: 9P)

Starting Goaltenders:

Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury (7-0-0, 1.84 GAA, .930 Sv% )
Avalanche: Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .971 Sv%)

Last Games:

Penguins: Defeated Vancouver Canucks 4-3 [SO].
Avalanche: Defeated Buffalo Sabres 4-2.

Previews from Team Websites:  [Penguins] [Avalanche

Lines and Notes: [Tonight Versus Colorado Avalanche]

Opposition Blog: [Mile High Hockey]
What They're Saying: "Preview: Avalanche at Penguins, Game 9"

According to Adrian Dater at the Denver Post, Avalanche goalie J.S. Giguere will get the start in net, as coach Roy wants to give Semyon Varlamov a bit more rest before the Avalanche's upcoming home-stand. The Penguins are always a dangerous team offensively and have a tough building for visiting teams, so while starting the veteran goaltender isn't a bad idea, it is a bit surprising considering how well Varlamov has played so far. The biggest task for the Avalanche, however, will be shutting down the Penguins top line. Roy will surely try to match Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog against the league's best center, but without last change Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene are sure to see tough minutes against Crosby and Co. Crosby has an unreal 7 goals and 17 points in his first 8 games this year, so shutting him down will be a tall task for the Avs, and likely the key to leaving Pittsburgh with 2 points in the standings.

What Happened Last Time: March 3, 2012 – Pens won 5-1 [Our Recap]

The Pens did what they needed to do: got a big lead and got the hell out of Colorado. The Stars and Avalanche aren't the 1980 Oilers or anything, but there's really no downside in the Pens riding into hostile road environments and taking 4 points. These 4 points move them to 81, 8 or so points behind the Rangers. David Copperfield making his first appearance of the season on Monday. And the secondary scoring is showing up almost on a nightly basis again…just in time for the playoffs.

Penguins Player(s) to Watch: Sidney Crosby. No reason is needed.

Avalanche Player(s) to Watch: Nathan MacKinnon, because he's from the same place as Sidney Crosby. We can't wait for the story tomorrow that quotes Nathan MacKinnon as saying Sidney Crosby didn't say anything special to him before the faceoff.

Gif that Seems Appropriate for Today's Game: