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Posted On Friday, 12.02.2011 / 3:56 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

BLUES
Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Chris Stewart - Patrik Berglund - Matt D'Agostini
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Vladimir Sobotka - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak
Ian Cole - Alex Pietrangelo

Jaroslav Halak is expected to start in goal with Brian Elliott as the backup.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Kevin Porter - TJ Galiardi - Brandon Yip

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 4:12 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Avs must make life difficult for opposing goalies

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche's lack of offense has become such a problem that it doesn't matter much which goalie the team is facing, especially at home.

"Unfortunately when we're playing, the opposition's goaltender has been the No. 1 star for a lot of nights," coach Joe Sacco said after this morning's skate. "We have to make it harder on the opposition's goalie, very simple."

The Avalanche have scored just 24 goals in 13 games at the Pepsi Center, so it should come as no surprise that the club has lost nine of them heading into tonight's contest with the New Jersey Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur, whose 630 wins are the most in NHL history.

The Avalanche are averaging over 30 shots per game and have registered between 40 and 51 shots five times, but too often the shots have been taken from the perimeter. Forwards haven't been doing a very good job of getting to the front of the net for deflections and tip-ins, or to hunt down rebounds.

"We've obviously had our troubles scoring at home," Sacco said. "We've been in a little bit of a slump. We're a young team right now that's having trouble scoring, having trouble finding the back of the net. We have to find ways, we have to come up with a solution to get scoring opportunities and to bury our chances when they're there."

More line changes are in store for tonight.

David Jones will move to right wing on a line with Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk will skate at right wing with Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly. Daniel Winnik will be at left wing with Jay McClement and Chuck Kobasew. Sacco was still tinkering with the fourth line.

"We're playing very well defensively, we just have to find ways to score," Duchene said. "If we can get on a track where were scoring three and five goals a game, which we're capable of doing, I think we'll be able to win some games. We just have to find that offense."

Defenseman Erik Johnson (groin) skated this morning but will miss his fourth game in a row. Left wing Peter Mueller (head, groin) also skated and will sit for the 22nd consecutive game.

The Devils are beginning a four-game road trip that includes stops in Minnesota, Winnipeg and Toronto. They've won three of their past four road games and are 7-5-0 on the road overall.

Left wing Eric Boulton is expected to return to the Devils' lineup after recovering from a broken right hand. Boulton hasn't played since getting injured Oct. 21 against San Jose.

Defenseman Andy Greene, who was hit with a shot Saturday in the Devils' 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, has a sore foot and won't play. He's expected to return at some point on the trip.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 4:10 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Devils, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

DEVILS
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Tim Sestito - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen

Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Mark Fraser - Anton Volchenkov
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne

Martin Brodeur will start in goal with Johan Hedberg as the backup.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Kevin Porter - TJ Galiardi - Brandon Yip

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Monday, 11.28.2011 / 3:22 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Stars, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

STARS
Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Mike Ribeiro - Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Krys Barch - Tom Wandell - Toby Peterson

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Adam Pardy
Mark Fistric - Philip Larsen

Andrew Raycroft will start in goal with Richard Bachman as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - TJ Galiardi - David Jones
Kevin Porter - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 2:51 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Avalanche put Johnson on IR, recall Elliott

DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche placed defenseman Erik Johnson on injured reserve today because of a groin injury and called up defenseman Stefan Elliott from the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League.

Elliott will be available for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center. Elliott, 20, had two goals, seven assists and a plus-five rating with Lake Erie. He was a second-round pick (49th overall) in the 2009 Entry Draft.

These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

OILERS

Ryan SmythRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Taylor HallShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Ryan JonesEric BelangerSam Gagner
Darcy HordichukAnton LanderLennart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Theo PeckhamJeff Petry
Colten TeubertTaylor Chorney

Devan Dubnyk is expected to start in goal with Nikolai Khabibulin as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Matt DuchenePaul StastnyMilan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeodTJ GaliardiDavid Jones
Kevin PorterJay McClementChuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey, Shane O’Brien
Jan Hejda, Stefan Elliott
Ryan Wilson, Ryan O’Byrne

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 4:55 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Varlamov back in net for Avalanche

DENVER – Semyon Varlamov will be back in goal for the Colorado Avalanche and Cory Schneider will remain in goal for the Vancouver Canucks tonight when the teams meet at Pepsi Center.

Varlamov, who is in a 0-5-1 slump, will make his first start since Nov. 15 when he faced 33 shots in the Avalanche’s 6-3 loss in Pittsburgh. He hasn’t won since Oct. 30, a 3-2 home win against Los Angeles, and served as the backup to Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the past three games.

Schneider will make his third start in a row as Roberto Luongo recovers from the upper-body injury he suffered Nov. 13 in the Canucks’ 4-1 win against the New York Islanders. Luongo took part in the optional pregame skate this morning and is expected to start Friday against Phoenix in the second game of the Canucks’ three-game road trip.

Schneider is coming off a 28-save performance Sunday in the Canucks’ 2-1 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators. He’s posted a 3-4-0 record with a 2.52 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

Defenseman Keith Ballard (back spasms) and left wing Mason Raymond (vertebrae compression fracture) are close to returning, but they won’t play against Colorado.

After getting off to a hot start, Varlamov has allowed 20 goals during his six-game winless streak. He permitted seven goals in one game, six in another and was replaced by Giguere early in the second period of a 5-2 loss in Detroit on Nov. 8 after giving up three goals on 16 shots.

The Canucks have dominated the Avalanche in recent games, posting a 5-0-1 record against them last season and a 6-1-2 mark in the past nine games in Denver.

“They have a lot of high-end skill and they’re tough on the back end and they have good goaltending,” Avalanche center Paul Stastny said this morning. “They have depth everywhere and they’re a good special-teams team.”

The Canucks are especially potent on the power play. They lead the NHL with a 26.7 percent success rate and have connected for 10 goals on 24 man advantages (41.7 percent) in the past seven games.

The Avalanche has the second-best power play (25.7 percent) but probably will be without defenseman Erik Johnson, who is nursing a groin ailment, to play the point.

Colorado has lost four of the past five games overall and seven of 10 home games this season.

“I don’t think we’re playing as bad as our record indicates,” defenseman Shane O’Brien said. “At the same time, our record is what our record is. We still have six games left on this homestand, which is huge for us. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us. You don’t want to make excuses, but the hockey gods maybe haven’t been on our side; we’ve had some bad bounces. But at the same time, you create your own bounces with hard work.”
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 4:28 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Canucks, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Ryan Kesler - Chris Higgins
Manny Malhotra - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Aaron Volpatti - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Kevin Bieksa - Dan Hamhuis
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Andrew Alberts - Aaron Rome

Cory Schneider will start in goal with Roberto Luongo as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Joakim Lindstrom - Paul Stastny - Chuck Kobasew
David Jones - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
TJ Galiardi - Jay McClement - Kevin Porter

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Jan Hejda - Matt Hunwick
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.20.2011 / 3:53 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Giguere getting third straight start for Avs Sunday

DENVER -- Signed as a backup on July 1, Jean-Sebastien Giguere will make his third consecutive start in goal tonight when the Colorado Avalanche play the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center.

Giguere, 34, is coming off a 3-0 win against Dallas on Friday when he made 24 saves, and he's stopped 41 of 42 shots in his past two starts.
   
"He's played very well the last two games and he deserves to get back in there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after the morning skate.

The Avalanche sent first- and second-round draft picks to Washington on July 1 to acquire Semyon Varlamov and signed him to a three-year, $8.3 million contract, but he's struggled after getting off to a hot start. Varlamov, 23, is winless (0-5-1) in six starts since a 3-2 victory against Los Angeles on Oct. 30.

"It's a situation where he played very well for us early on and he's going through a tough stretch," Sacco said. "Sometimes the best thing for a young goaltender is to see what's going on."

Giguere has played well in each of his seven games -- six starts and one relief appearance -- and is relishing another chance to return to the crease.

"You always want to play as many games as possible," said Giguere, who has a 4-2 record with a 1.68 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. "(Varlamov) is the guy they see as their future, the future of this team. It's normal to go through a slump, especially when you're young. He had a lot of emotion at the beginning of the year and that kind of slowly dies down as the year goes on. He just has to recapture that somehow.

"Everybody knows what he's capable of doing. He's working extremely hard in practice. Until then, as a backup, you have to be ready for situations like that."

Giguere's role includes being a mentor and sounding board for Varlamov, who owns a 5-8-1 record with a 3.30 GAA and .890 save percentage.

"I'm here to be a good teammate, too," Giguere said. "I've been through what he's going through many times. If anybody in this room knows what he's going through, it's me. I talk to him as much as I can and try to keep him positive, try to keep him smiling. That's what they wanted me here for. They know that with a young guy sometimes things can go wrong. It's always good to have a good veteran presence helping the young guy along."

The Avalanche will be trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since a five-game winning streak on the road from Oct. 10-17. It won't be easy against the Sharks, who are on a 5-1-1 roll and have gone 10-2-1 since Oct. 21.

The Sharks won their second game in a row with a 4-1 victory Saturday night in Dallas and didn't skate this morning.

"They're one of the powerhouses in the Western Conference and in the league," Sacco said. "They play a real strong cycle game, have a lot of big, strong power forwards and a big defense corps. They play a pretty straightforward game. They try to spend time in the offensive zone and wear you down. They're going to be a great test for us."
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Posted On Sunday, 11.20.2011 / 3:39 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineup for Sharks-Avalanche

These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

SHARKS

Logan CoutureJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski

Ryane ClowePatrick MarleauMartin Havlat

Jamie McGinnMichal HandzusTorrey Mitchell

Brad WinchesterAndrew DesjardinsAndrew Murray

Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray

Brent Burns, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic

Jason Demers, Jim Vandermeer

Antti Niemi is expected to start in goal with Thomas Greiss as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel LandeskogMatt DucheneMilan Hejduk

Kevin PorterPaul StastnyBrandon Yip

David JonesRyan O'ReillyDaniel Winnik

TJ GaliardiJay McClementChuck Kobasew

Kyle QuinceyShane O'Brien

Ryan WilsonErik Johnson

Jan HejdaRyan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal with Semyon Varlamov as the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 5:12 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Struggling Avalanche shake up lines

DENVER -- It's shake-up time for the Colorado Avalanche. Coach Joe Saco has changed all four line combinations for tonight's game against the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center, which kicks off a season-long eight-game homestand.

The Avalanche have lost three games in a row to fall two games under .500 (8-10-1), have gone 1-6-1 in the past eight games and have lost six of eight home games this season.

"It's important that we start to establish our strong home record now, and it starts tonight," Sacco said after this morning's optional skate. "It's important that we make up some ground here. But it has to start tonight; we can't look ahead."

Among the Avalanche changes: rookie left wing Gabriel Landeskog will move from center on Ryan O'Reilly’s line to a unit with center Matt Duchene and right wing Milan Hejduk; David Jones will skate at left wing with O'Reilly and right wing Daniel Winnik; and center Paul Stastny will skate with left wing Kevin Porter and right wing Brandon Yip.

Yip was activated from injured reserve and made his season debut Thursday in the Avalanche's 1-0 loss in Minnesota after recovering from a broken right forearm he suffered in training camp. Left wing Peter Mueller, who has missed 16 games to recover from the effects of a concussion that caused him to miss all last season, was placed on IR to make room for Yip.

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 17 shots Thursday, will start back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"(Changes) happen when you go through a little bit of a tough stretch here. You shake things up," Sacco said. "Sometimes it brings excitement to players to play with somebody different. We'll see how it goes."

The Stars have also been in a slump, losing three games in a row while being outscored 14-3 after winning four games in succession.

Dallas will welcome left wing Steve Ott back into the lineup. Ott, who missed six games with a hip injury, will skate on a line with center Jamie Benn and right wing Michael Ryder. To make room for Ott, the Stars placed right wing Adam Burish (hand) on the injured list.

Loui Eriksson will move to right wing on a line with left wing Brenden Morrow and center Mike Ribeiro.

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal. He faced 30 shots on Tuesday in the Stars' 6-0 loss to Florida.
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