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Posted On Thursday, 02.12.2015 / 3:38 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Rangers at Avalanche

DENVER -- It's a good thing Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda enjoys a challenge. He and defense partner Zach Redmond will have their hands full against the New York Rangers at Pepsi Center on Thursday.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he will put Hejda and Redmond on the ice as much as possible against the Rangers' high-scoring line of Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard and Rick Nash.

Hejda is very familiar with Nash, who is tied with the Washington Capitals' Alex Ovechkin for the NHL lead in goals with 33. They were teammates with the Columbus Blue Jackets for four seasons before Hejda joined the Avalanche as a free agent in 2011.

"Even in Columbus he was one of the top 10 guys in the League," Hejda said of the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Nash. "He's a very strong guy. He has good skill, but I think his big advantage is he's super strong. Most of my career I've played against the top guys, so I have some experience to play against these guys.

"It's kind of a similar style playing against Jaromir Jagr. (Nash) is strong around the net and you have to be in good position every time against him because he can change a game. I have no problems playing against the top lines every night. I'm proud of my role. This is my job and I'm very happy to have it. If we can shut them down, this is the same feeling for me if I score a goal."

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Posted On Thursday, 02.05.2015 / 3:52 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Red Wings at Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie has a hip flexor injury and won't play against the Detroit Red Wings at Pepsi Center on Thursday.

Barrie's injury leaves the Avalanche (22-18-11) without their top two defensemen. Erik Johnson underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Jan. 26 and is expected to miss at least two more weeks.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Barrie should be able to play Saturday against the Minnesota Wild when the Avalanche open a two-game road trip.

Stefan Elliott will replace Barrie, who has five goals and 25 assists in 51 games. Elliott was recalled Jan. 29 from the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League. Elliott had 12 goals and 14 assists in 40 games with Lake Erie and played in the AHL All-Star Game.

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Posted On Friday, 01.30.2015 / 3:10 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Predators at Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said this season's Nashville Predators remind him of last season's Avalanche.

The Predators, who play the Avalanche on Friday at Pepsi Center, are leading the Central Division under coach Peter Laviolette, who replaced Barry Trotz in May.

Roy, in his first season with the Avalanche last season, led the Avs to the Central title.

"It's a very confident team," Roy said of the Predators (31-10-6), who are two points behind the Anaheim Ducks for the best record in the League after missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. "It's a team that really believes in themselves. Their coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for that."

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.21.2015 / 3:18 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Bruins at Avalanche

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche still believe they are one run away from moving into a Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference.

The Avalanche (19-18-10) are five points out of the second wild-card spot heading into their game with the Boston Bruins (25-16-6) at Pepsi Center on Wednesday. They're 6-2-1 in their past nine home games and 10-5-4 overall since Dec. 11.

"We're playing good hockey, playing over .500 lately, and we want to keep pushing the envelope and pushing the bar up higher," center Matt Duchene said. "Every game's the biggest game of the year right now. We're one streak away from being right in it. We're fine, we're chugging away, but at some point we're going to have to make a push. Our home record has been good lately and we have to take care of business tonight."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.10.2015 / 11:16 AM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Stars at Avalanche

DENVER -- Looking to make up ground in the Western Conference and to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs picture, the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche play at Pepsi Center on Saturday.

The Stars (18-15-7), who will reach the halfway point of its season, are four points behind the Winnipeg Jets (20-14-7), who hold the second wild card position. The Stars are one point ahead of the Avalanche (17-16-8), who begin second half play.

The Stars have lost three consecutive games (0-1-2) but are 8-2-2 in their past 12 games. The Avalanche are 4-1-0 in their past five games and 8-3-2 in their past 13.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.08.2015 / 4:13 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Senators at Avalanche

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche will reach the halfway point of the season when they play the Ottawa Senators at Pepsi Center on Thursday knowing they have plenty of work to do to move into contention for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Avalanche (16-16-8, 40 points) are seven points behind the Winnipeg Jets (20-13-7, 47 points) for the second wild-card position in the Western Conference. They've won three of their past four games and have gone 7-3-2 in the past 12.

"I think the last few weeks we've grown as a team," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "I think we've gotten better as the season has gone along, but we certainly want to improve. We know we have to improve to get to the playoffs. We have an opportunity tonight to keep going on home ice, where we've played pretty solid hockey as of late and we want to keep that up."

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Posted On Sunday, 01.04.2015 / 2:47 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blue Jackets at Avalanche

DENVER -- While the Colorado Avalanche are still having trouble scoring goals, their improvement on defense has resulted in a 6-2-2 run they'll test against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center on Sunday.

The Avalanche (15-15-8) have allowed one goal or fewer in five of those games, and they've given up more than three goals once in this stretch.

"We're playing very well defensively," coach Patrick Roy said. "We've been giving less and less goals, which is very good for us. Now we just need to get some confidence offensively and I think we'll be in a good position."

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Posted On Friday, 01.02.2015 / 3:40 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Oilers at Avalanche

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers will have different looks for different reasons when they play at Pepsi Center on Friday.

The Avalanche (14-15-8) are changing line combinations in an attempt to help center Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon end scoring slumps.

The Oilers (8-22-8) traded left wing David Perron to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Friday in exchange for center Rob Klinkhammer and a first-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. They have lost defenseman Keith Aulie to a two-game suspension; left wing Benoit Pouliot will return after recovering from a broken foot; and center Anton Lander will play after being recalled from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League.

"It's a transition we can make," Oilers interim coach Todd Nelson said of losing Perron and adding Pouliot. "We add a quality forward to our lineup tonight with experience, so certainly he can help. We'll also get a good look at Anton tonight."

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Posted On Wednesday, 12.31.2014 / 3:00 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Flyers at Avalanche

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers will close 2014 on Wednesday at Pepsi Center hoping for better things in the New Year.

The Avalanche (13-15-8) have lost two games in a row and are last in the Central Division after finishing first last season. The Flyers (14-16-6) also have lost two in a row with three games left on an eight-game road trip. They're fifth in the Metropolitan Division after finishing third last season and earning a place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Avalanche's inability to generate offense on a consistent basis despite a number of talented forwards has been a major problem. They've been shut out six times. Not counting goals awarded in shootouts, they've scored more than three goals in seven games.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.27.2014 / 3:38 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2014-2015 At the Rink blog

At the Rink: Blackhawks at Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche rookie goalie Calvin Pickard will start against the Chicago Blackhawks for the second time in a month at Pepsi Center on Saturday, hoping to play as well, but with a different outcome.

Pickard made 42 saves on Nov. 26 in the Avalanche's 3-2 loss to the Blackhawks when Bryan Bickell broke a 2-2 tie with 5:17 remaining in the third period. The Avalanche were outshot 45-29.

"Last time I had a pretty good game against them," Pickard said. "It's too bad we lost at the end of the game. It's always a fun game between these two teams."

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It is really special. I had a lot of friends and family here tonight, and for my first [NHL] game in here it was great. I played here as an elementary-school player in the city championships and this was my first time back. It was a lot of fun.

— Toronto native Brandon Pirri after scoring 2 goals for Panthers in win at Maple Leafs on Thursday
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