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Avalanche stop falling just in time to face Red Wings

Red Wings are 0-6-2 in their last eight games against Avalanche

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Dylan Larkin, Red Wings
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin believes the altitude in Denver can cause slow starts for visiting clubs.

Just when it looked to be good timing for the Detroit Red Wings to be visiting Denver, the Colorado Avalanche went out and brought a halt to their fall in a big way.

While the Wings were stumbling to a 4-3 loss against the lowly Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, the Avalanche were putting a 7-0 smackdown on the Ottawa Senators.

Entering that game, the defending Stanley Cup champion Avalanche were 1-6-1 in their previous eight games. With 45 points, Colorado sits ninth in the Western Conference, six points out of a playoff spot. But even without Saturday’s slaying of the Senators, no one in the Detroit dressing room was about to underestimate the capabilities of this Colorado club.

“It’s always an exciting game in Colorado with a lot of Detroit fans there,” Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin said. “With them winning the Stanley Cup last year, I expect it’s gonna be a good atmosphere.”

No one need remind Detroit coach Derek Lalonde about just how good the Avalanche can be. He was an assistant coach with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Colorado dethroned Tampa as Cup champs, beating the Lightning in a six-game Stanley Cup final series.

“I know they’re not having the season they were expecting, especially with their expectations coming into the season but that’s the Cup contender, the champion,” Lalonde said of the Avalanche. “They’re that good.”

Red Wings Must Rise Up Against Avalanche

Of late, slow starts are impacting the Red Wings. Saturday, they fell behind 4-0 to Columbus in the first period and lost 4-3. It was the fourth time over the past nine games that Detroit has given up multiple goals in the opening period while also being shutout.

In the Mile High City, coming out of the gate slowly is not uncommon for the visiting club. Add to that the fact that because it’s Martin Luther King Day, the holiday means the teams will be playing with a rare 3 p.m. ET Monday afternoon start.

“It’s an afternoon game, so we need to be ready to go,” Larkin said. “It’s always a difficult first 20 minutes in that building with the travel and the attitude and the way they play. We’re gonna have to find a great road effort.”

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Regardless of the altitude, Detroit needs to show up with a more aggressive attitude. Playing a passive first period will dig the Red Wings a hole they’re unlikely to escape.

Colorado has held a hoodoo over Detroit for several seasons. Overall, the Wings are 0-6-2 in the last eight games against the Avalanche. Detroit’s last win over Colorado was a 5-1 victory on March 18, 2017. On the road at Ball Arena, the Red Wings are 0-4-1 through their past five trips there. The most recent Detroit win at Colorado was a 5-3 verdict on February 27, 2016.

“I don’t care if we’re playing the No. 1 team in the league or No. 32 team, we have to have a high compete and execution level,” Derek Lalonde said. “It’ll be the same thing on Monday.”

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