The Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche are entering their second game in a home-and-home matchup to start the 2014-15 NHL season. The Wild handled the Avalanche with ease on Thursday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, winning 5-0. The divisional rivals are slated to continue the season series at 8pm CST at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado.

Thursday night’s contest witnessed a 48-16 advantage for the Wild in shots as goalie Darcy Kuemper recorded his fourth career NHL shutout. For the Avalanche, last year’s Vezina Trophy finalist, Semyon Varlamov, was pulled after two periods. Varlamov allowed all five Minnesota goals in the first two periods while his backup, Reto Berra, stopped all ten shots he faced.

Despite Thursday night’s outcome, Varlamov is expected to start tonight. Avalanche second-year head coach, and last year’s Jack Adams Trophy winner, Patrick Roy will be shaking up other parts of the lineup. Veteran winger Jarome Iginla will move to the first line, while center Nathan MacKinnon will slide down to the second line and play center. On the third defensive pairing for Colorado, Jan Hejda will be joined by Ryan Wilson instead of Nate Guenin, who will be a healthy scratch.

Mike Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that Wild head coach Mike Yeo might make minor changes to the fourth line. If any such changes were to occur, it would likely involve Stu Bickel slotting in on the wing in an effort to add more toughness to the lineup.

They will be looking to change their road woes from last year’s playoffs. They only won one of seven road games, which was the game seven clincher over the Avalanche. This means utilizing matchups effectively to control MacKinnon. In …read more