Avalanche vs Wild Game Preview

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Avalanche vs Wild Game Preview
I'm still alive!

I took a few games off to rest and recharge but it appears I've regained the energy to write.

While I was kicking back, I was also slacking off on watching the Avs due to the ever-exciting World Junior Hockey Championship.

The hockey in that tournament has been magnitudes more exciting than what the Avalanche have been playing lately so I certainly don't regret the decision.

Canada goes for their fifth-straight gold on Monday and it's half as good as their games against the USA and Russia, you're going to be sorry if you missed it.

On to the game at hand
Colorado has just finished knocking themselves out of playoff contention for the moment and are facing another struggling team in the Minnesota Wild.

Minnesota got off to rocket start to the season but have since dropped below the 8th-seed, thanks in part to a 5-game losing streak in early December 

The Wild have had tough opponents in their last four matchups (Blackhawks, Flames, Sharks, Wings) and you can only imagine how happy they are to be facing the Avalanche.

Sure, if you ask one of their players they'll give the "It's the NHL and any team can win on any given night. They've got some quality players and you have to work hard against them" stock answer but can anyone not read between the lines there?

It's time for a line change
Tony Granato has shaken up the lines big time for this game after struggling to find some effective combinations during the last two games.

The first big move is that Wojtek Wolski is finally being moved to center. After declaring Wolski a capable fill-in at center should Joe Sakic retire, TG promptly decided to leave Wolski at the wing and move Ian Laperriere to center when Sakic went down with his injuries.

Jib makes an interesting comparison with Wolski and Joe Thornton. It's a great point and actually has me a little excited to see what Wolski can do.

Wolski's linemates will be Milan Hejduk and David Jones which puts a power forward on right and a sniper on the left. How will Milan Hejduk fair on the left-wing? He's always loved to fly down his off-wing so he might relish the chance. 

T.J. Hensick and Chris Stewart have been promoted to a line with Ryan Smyth. A playmaking center, a power forward and a guy who will plant himself in front of the crease. It's got potential.

Tyler Arnason has fallen from #1 center to the #3 slot as he will center Darcy Tucker and Marek Svatos. Tucker and Arnason had some chemistry earlier in the season and we're all hoping they find it again. Tucker and Arnason aren't such bad guys when they're putting points on the board.

It's unfortunate that Marek Svatos continues to spend time down on the third line but if Jones falters, he will be the first guy to be bumped up a slot.

The final line will consist of Brian Willsie and Cody Mcleod centered by Ian Laperriere. Lappy has been one of the few bright spots recently and it's unfortunate to see him playing on the grind line.

Goaltending
Peter Budaj gets the call again and will likely face off against Niklas Backstrom.

Game time
The game starts at 8:00 ET which gives me about 2 1/2 hours to warm up the car and grab some groceries first.

Normally that would be plenty of time but since it's -40C here today, I'm thinking the car might be a bit bitchy at being woken up.
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