Hawks hope to end skid against Avs
Monday, 02.06.2012 / 4:32 PMBLACKHAWKS (29-17-7) AT AVALANCHE (26-25-3)
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: Chicago 4-4-2, Colorado 3-5-2.
: This is the final meeting of four between these Western Conference rivals this season. Going into Tuesday's contest, Colorado boasts a two-game lead in the series -- including a 4-0 shutout over the Blackhawks in their last contest on January 6. Semyon Varlamov
made 27 saves to earn that shutout for Colorado.
: Both these Western Conference foes are looking to snap a five-game winless streak on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks are scrambling to stay afloat in what has turned out to be one of the toughest divisions in the league this season so every point is critical for the Blackhawks who enter Tuesday with 65 points and fifth place in the West – a 10-point lead over Colorado in the standings. However, Colorado is still well within reach of one of the Western Conference's precious eight playoff spots, so every inner-conference game is crucial at this juncture of the season.
: The Blackhawks just completed a three game tour of Western Canada in which they lost all three contests after dropping both games of a home-and-home with the Nashville Predators last week.
The Hawks are just three games into a nine-game road trip in which they will play in four different time zones. The Blackhawks have had several days to recover from their latest loss, a 3-1 loss to the Flames on Friday, and they are ready to take on another recently slumping team in Denver.
"I think stretches like this get your attention and as a team you learn from this," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We haven't really had a challenge like this all year and it's up to us to recapture how we felt earlier in the year and know what it takes to win."
The Blackhawks will have to snap this skid quickly if they hope to maintain their current tenure in the playoff picture in the West.
: The good news in Colorado is that star-center Matt Duchene
took the ice on Monday morning before the team's practice, which bodes well for his timetable of recovering from a knee injury that has sidelined him since Dec. 29.
Colorado hopes to snap a six-game winless streak as they take on the Blackhawks. It looked like the Avs were going to snap that streak on Saturday night when they had a 2-1 lead over the Canucks as the final minute mark passed, however, the Canucks tied the game in dramatic fashion with just 34.1 seconds remaining in regulation. The Canucks tallied the lone goal in the shootout to dash Colorado's hopes of snapping the recent skid. Despite the tough loss, the Avs were happy with their improved effort.
"Besides not getting the extra point, there's not too much to be unhappy about," Avs coach Joe Sacco told the Denver Post. "We did a lot of good things in the course of that game against a pretty good hockey team."
: Patrick Kane
has tallied at least one point in each of the Blackhawks last three losses. … Gabriel Landeskog
has six points in as many games and was named third star of the night in his last outing for tallying nine shots on goal and a season-high 31 shifts.
: For Chicago, Daniel Carcillo
(left knee surgery) is out for the rest of the season.… Peter Mueller
missed Saturday's game with the flu, but is expected back on Tuesday. Duchene is back on the ice (not yet in practice) but is still listed as out indefinitely.
: Marian Hossa
has notched seven goals and 11 points in eight career games at the Pepsi Center as well as two goals in three games against the Avalanche this season.
: Colorado Rookie defenseman Tyson Barrie
is expected to make his NHL debut on Tuesday night against the Blackhawks. He leads the Lake Erie Monsters with 29 points (5 goals, 24 assists) and as of Feb. 6, he was leading all AHL defenseman in scoring.
"I didn't really expect it," Barried told ColoradoAvalanche.com of his call up. "Everyone [with the Avalanche] was healthy, so it was kind of out-of-the-blue. It was crazy and it's a weird feeling to explain, but it was one of the better feelings so far."