The Carolina Hurricanes will host the Colorado Avalanche this evening at PNC Arena. The second of two games against Western Conference juggernauts this week after the All-Star break. The Vancouver Canucks defeated the Canes on Tuesday in Raleigh.
A strong effort was given after a long break to arguably the best team in the NHL but just fell short. Pyotr Kochetkov was back in the groove but a little rusty at times.
Colorado has had a rough start after the All-Star break, losing two road games to the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils. Still, with 68 points, the Avalanche are tied at the top of the Central Division with the Dallas Stars. The Canes will visit the Stars next week.
The visitor this evening is led by the recent All-Star teammate of Sebastian Aho, Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon has 53 assists so far, no that was not a typo. His 85 points lead the scoring for this powerful squad.
Unlike other contenders, MacKinnon has plenty of support on this team. This is true even with the captain, Gabriel Landeskog being out for a year with hopes of returning for the playoffs. Mikko Rantanen has 67 points behind MacKinnon.
On defense, it starts with an offensive powerhouse in the league in Cale Makar. Makar and Hughes back-to-back shows us the top two offensive defensemen in the NHL. Makar has 60 points currently and 13 goals. Devon Toews has had another strong season after being acquired by the New York Islanders.
Alexandar Georgiev has had the bulk of the starts this year and has performed well with 27 wins. His 2.88 GAA and .899 save percentage are solid but not elite. Time will tell if this will be good enough to win the Stanley Cup.