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Venue: Pepsi Center
Time: 9pm Eastern
Broadcast: Detroit - FS-D, Colorado - Altitude
When the Detroit Red Wings (5-2-0, 10 pts, 2nd Atlantic Division), needed their backup goaltender to come up big, he pulled it off. Making consecutive starts in Monday's match against the Boston Bruins, and then Tuesday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jonas "Monster" Gustavsson stopped 64 of 67 shots between the two matches to help his team pull up two big "W's" and put them on a season-high 3-game win streak. Tonight they put that on the line against an old, and once again formidable foe.
The Colorado Avalanche (6-0-0, 12 pts, 1st Central Division), were the near-laughingstocks of the league for a few seasons now, including a last place finish last season. But they've come back this season with new faces everywhere, including one behind the bench that most Red Wings fans know all too well. Hired in over the offseason, Patrick Roy was taken on as the head coach of the Avalanche, and he's taken the team in such a direction that they're still undefeated heading into their 7th game of the season. After a few years of dragging, he's turned this young team into one the competes well above the level of most of their ages.
With Jimmy Howard still day-to-day with a bruised catching hand, the Red Wings will turn to Jonas Gustavsson to put on yet another show in his 3rd straight start, and hope to pull up as many wins. On the season he's now toting a .955 SP and 1.50 GAA, which by themselves look spectacular, but coupled with the fact that he's only played 2 games so far this season leaves room for caution. If he plays with the vision, enthusiasm and mobility that he's had his last 2 starts, he should have minimal problems.
The Avalanche are expected to counter with Semyon Varlamov, who has also been playing at an elite level so far this season. Through 5 games played on the season, he's boasting a .965 SP (good for 1st in the league), and a 1.20 GAA, (2nd in the league). Even at such an early stage in the season, those number are no joke; the kid's good. The Red Wings' offense will have to be at the peak of their game to get a lead on this fiery Avalanche team and hold it.
Who to keep an eye on: Daniel Alfredsson, after putting on a sub-par performance in his first few games this season, now has 5 points in his last 3 games, including his first goal as a Red Wing. Look for him to get set up to let off one of his power-bomb slapshots.
And as always, LGRW!