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Posted On Friday, 10.24.2014 / 3:42 PM

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

At the Rink: Canucks at Avalanche

DENVER -- Maybe the return of goalie Semyon Varlamov will provide the Colorado Avalanche with the spark they need to secure their first home win of the season.

Varlamov, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, will start Friday against the Vancouver Canucks at Pepsi Center after missing three games to recover from a groin injury.

But coach Patrick Roy said every player will need to be at their best if the Avalanche (1-4-2) are going to turn things around.

"I want us to be ready individually tonight," he said. "I want our guys to go home this afternoon and think individually what they need to do for tonight's game: win their battles, skate hard, be sharp around their net. If we're doing a good job individually, I think we'll have a good night.

"I'm not nervous about the X's and O's and stuff like that. Everybody understands the system, everybody knows what we expect. But I think we need to be better individually. We always try to be positive, and it's normal with a young group, but at the same time our game management needs to be a little bit better and more consistent."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.21.2014 / 3:02 PM

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

At the Rink: Panthers at Avalanche

DENVER -- Florida Panthers coach Gerard Gallant is aware the Colorado Avalanche have struggled to score goals this season -- nine in six games -- and is hopeful they won't break out Tuesday at Pepsi Center.

"They haven't scored a lot but they have the potential to score a lot of goals," Gallant said after an optional morning skate. "With their talent and the skill over there it's just a matter of time, so hopefully it's not [Tuesday]."

The Panthers are in a similar situation with five goals in five games, but they've been getting strong goaltending from Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya while playing solid team defense. Montoya made 26 saves Saturday when the Panthers began a three-game trip with a 2-1 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. Luongo, who will play Tuesday, has turned aside 48 of 49 shots in his past two starts.

"Hopefully we'll keep playing our game and shut them down and play a real solid game," Gallant said. "They're a dangerous team like Washington is a dangerous team. We have to make sure we're playing our game. We're working hard, we're having good gaps, not giving odd-man rushes. I think if we keep playing that way we'll have a chance to win every night."

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Posted On Saturday, 10.11.2014 / 3:22 PM

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

At the Rink: Wild at Avalanche

DENVER -- It didn't take long for Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy to make lineup changes.

After watching the Avalanche get outshot 48-16 in a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday in the season opener, Roy will shuffle all four line combinations for the rematch Saturday at Pepsi Center.

"Looking at the guys, they were not happy with their performance," Roy said after the morning skate. "We know we have to be better than what we did. We didn't compete the way we wanted and the guys know that. This is the first test for it. We're going to have to regroup and be ready. We have to be a lot different."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.30.2014 / 3:08 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Avalanche's Duchene back home for Game 7

DENVER -- Center Matt Duchene will play his first home game in a month Wednesday when the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild play Game 7 of their Western Conference First Round series at Pepsi Center (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, TSN2, RDS, FS-N, ALT).

This will be Duchene's first game in the building since March 29, when he sustained a knee injury in a collision with teammate Jamie McGinn on their first shift against the San Jose Sharks.

"It's going to be awesome," said Duchene, who returned in Game 6, played nearly 19 minutes and had an assist in the Avalanche's 5 - 2 loss. "It was so hard for me to watch the intros for the games here and not be able to skate with the boys, so it's really going to be exciting to be a part of it tonight. It'll be fun to be out there in front of the home crowd. They've been unbelievable for us in the series.

"Usually your puck skills go away when you get hurt, but they stayed with me a little bit more this time. In terms of my foot speed and my skating, it has a long way to go. Hopefully we win tonight and I can continue to improve on that."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.26.2014 / 3:44 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Duchene skates as Avalanche prepare for Game 5

DENVER -- Other than making some minor adjustments, the Colorado Avalanche are looking to get off to a fast start and feed off the energy of a friendly Pepsi Center crowd Saturday against the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, RDS, TSN, FS-N, ALT).

Those roster adjustments won't include the return of forward Matt Duchene, who has resumed skating with the team. The home team has won each game in the series, which is tied 2-2.

"We will just tweak things here and there," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said after the morning skate. "We're comfortable with a couple of things we're trying tonight, nothing very major."

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Posted On Friday, 04.25.2014 / 6:07 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Avalanche say 'there's no panic in our room'

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- After losing two consecutive road games with an offense that has suddenly gone cold, the Colorado Avalanche expressed confidence Friday they will turn things around Saturday at Pepsi Center against the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, RDS, TSN, FS-N, ALT).

"We know that we've got some areas to work on and some areas need to get better, but there's no panic in our room," Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. "We believe in ourselves. It's 2-2 and it's certainly going to be fun from here on. It's not easy to win on the road."

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Posted On Sunday, 04.20.2014 / 5:39 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Duchene to skate with Avalanche; Mitchell travels too

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene accompanied the team to Minnesota on Sunday and is expected to skate for the first time since injuring his knee March 29 against the San Jose Sharks when the team practices at Xcel Energy Center on Monday.

Center John Mitchell is also on the trip, though it isn't known if he'll attempt to skate. He hasn't been on the ice since sustaining a concussion April 10 against the Vancouver Canucks.

The Avalanche lead the Minnesota Wild 2-0 in their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series. Game 3 is Monday (7 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN, NHLN-US, ALT, FS-N).

Duchene, who led the Avalanche in scoring with 70 points in 71 games, was expected to miss about four weeks after sustaining an injury to the medial collateral ligament in his left knee in a collision with linemate Jamie McGinn. He missed the final eight regular-season games, and coach Patrick Roy has been saying he doesn't expect Duchene to play in the series against the Wild.

"We'll see how it goes," Roy said before the Avalanche boarded their charter flight. "Our trainers are doing a really good job. They're working really hard and they're confident that Matt will continue to do well.

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Posted On Saturday, 04.19.2014 / 3:20 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Wild want to stay out of penalty box, 4-on-4 situations

DENVER -- The Minnesota Wild want to be more effective slowing down the fleet Colorado Avalanche forwards Saturday in Game 2 of their best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series at Pepsi Center (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, RDS, TSN, FS-N, ALT).

The Wild did a relatively good job in Game 1 until they became more conservative than coach Mike Yeo would like trying to protect a 4-2 lead in an eventual 5-4 overtime loss.

"As we got a little bit almost into a protect mode, we started to back up a little more instead of being in their face a little bit," Yeo said Saturday. He said part of the Avalanche's strategy is to try to create 4-on-4 skating situations, an advantage for their speed game.

"I think it's a tactic that they're trying to employ," he said. "No question when they're down, of course they want to play 4-on-4 and open up a little more ice. That's something we're always talking about to our guys, trying to get out of those battles, trying to get out of those scrums. We want to play harder between the whistles, but hopefully the people that are calling the game are aware of that and judging it the right way."

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Posted On Thursday, 04.17.2014 / 4:24 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Avalanche, Wild respect opposing goalies

DENVER -- The Minnesota Wild made a late-season run to earn the top Western Conference wild-card spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but coach Mike Yeo said his team will need to start rebuilding that momentum Thursday at Pepsi Center in the opener of their first-round series against the Colorado Avalanche (9:30 p.m. ET; CNBC, RDS, TSN, FS-N, ALT).

"I think we can take it right up until we drop the puck. It changes from there," Yeo said after the morning skate of the Wild's 6-1-1 run to close the regular season. "I think it's going to be about both teams going out and trying to build momentum from the game and trying to build momentum in the series.

"There's no question we should feel good about ourselves, and I think they feel good about themselves too. It's all about the preparation and getting ready for the grind that's going to come. It's obviously going to be a real good, intense playoff series against a real good opponent."

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Posted On Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 4:56 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Avalanche-Wild series blog

Hejda likely to play Game 1 for Avalanche

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Colorado Avalanche defenseman Jan Hejda practiced Wednesday for the first time since he sustained an upper-body injury Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks. He expects to play Thursday against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center in the opening game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference First Round (9:30 p.m. ET, CNBC, TSN, RDS, FS-N, ALT).

"Right now we're planning on that," Hejda said. "I didn't skate for three days, so I felt a little gasping on the ice, but at the end I started feeling good."


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Quote of the Day

I was surprised. I knew I got it. It's tough. You never know how hard it is until it registers on the gun. I got pretty much all I could into and you just hope for the best.

— Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber after winning the AMP NHL Hardest Shot event at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition