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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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Posted On Sunday, 04.06.2014 / 6:56 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Penguins to play without Crosby vs. Avalanche

DENVER -- The Pittsburgh Penguins will play without captain Sidney Crosby for the first time this season when they visit the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Sunday night due to an upper-body injury.

Crosby leads the NHL with 102 points (36 goals, 66 assists) in 78 games.

The Penguins, who lost 4-0 to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday and have gone 1-1-0 in the first two games of a three-game road trip, will also be without forward Chris Kunitz (lower body) and defensemen Brooks Orpik (lower body) and Olli Maata (upper body). The Penguins said none of the injuries are expected to be long-term.

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Posted On Thursday, 04.03.2014 / 4:19 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Rangers' Moore steps back in to replace McDonagh

DENVER -- A shoulder injury will prevent New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh from playing Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

Defenseman John Moore, who missed the past six games recovering from a concussion, will replace McDonagh, who was injured Tuesday on a hit by Vancouver Canucks forward Alexandre Burrows in the Rangers' 3-1 win.

McDonagh, who is listed as day-to-day, is among the NHL's top-scoring defensemen with 14 goals and 29 assists in 77 games. He leads the Rangers in ice time, averaging 24:49 per game.

"I don't think it's going to be very long," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of McDonagh's absence after the morning skate. "His 25 minutes are big minutes against big lines and on the power play and penalty killing, so we're going to try and spread those minutes around, and I'm confident our group will be able to get the job done."

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Posted On Saturday, 03.29.2014 / 12:00 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Avalanche aim to clinch first playoff spot since 2010

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche can clinch their first Stanley Cup Playoff appearance since 2009-10 with at least a point Saturday against the San Jose Sharks at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche (46-21-6) are third in the Central Division, one point behind the second-place Chicago Blackhawks (42-18-5). Colorado has two games in hand on Chicago and is hoping to gain home ice advantage in a first-round series that would likely pit them against the defending-champion Blackhawks.

Colorado could also clinch a postseason berth if the Dallas Stars lose to the St. Louis Blues or the Phoenix Coyotes lose to the Minnesota Wild.

Center John Mitchell will return to the Avalanche lineup after missing four games with a back injury he sustained after crashing into the boards in a March 18 game against the Montreal Canadiens.

"A significant amount of pain is gone," Mitchell said. "My whole back was just bruised right down the middle. It was tough just getting in and out of bed, in and out of a car. Any little pressure on my spine, on my back, was pretty sore. It's good that I can roll in and out of bed, get in and out of my car and not have any pain."

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Posted On Thursday, 03.27.2014 / 3:46 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Avalanche close to securing playoff berth

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche could clinch a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2009-10 with a win Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks at Pepsi Center and if the Phoenix Coyotes lose to the New Jersey Devils.

Colorado enters play Thursday in third place in the Central Division with 10 games to play. The Avalanche are three points (99-96) behind the second-place Chicago Blackhawks and have a game in hand.

"It would be a big accomplishment," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said of securing a playoff position. "That was our goal early in the season, to make the playoffs and to challenge for the Stanley Cup. That's step one and it would be great to do it [Thursday]."

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Posted On Friday, 03.21.2014 / 4:44 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Avalanche aim to end Bruins' win streak

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche will attempt to end the Boston Bruins' winning streak at 10 games Friday at Pepsi Center.

The Bruins are perfect since a 4-2 loss to the Washington Capitals on March 1 and can clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth with a win against the Avalanche. They also can clinch by picking up one point against the Avalanche if the New York Rangers lose in regulation Friday to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Boston has a comfortable lead in the Atlantic Division, tops the Eastern Conference with 99 points and is two points behind the St. Louis Blues for first in the NHL.

Colorado is third in the Central Division with 94 points, one behind the second-place Chicago Blackhawks, who play the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday.

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Posted On Friday, 03.14.2014 / 4:14 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2013-2014 At the Rink Blog

Selanne shifting to left side to play on Ducks' top line

DENVER -- Teemu Selanne will be playing a new position on a new line when the Anaheim Ducks play the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Friday and try to end a four-game losing streak.

It's been a struggle at times for Selanne, 43, who is in his 21st and what he has said will be his final NHL season. A right wing throughout his career, Selanne will be at left wing on the Ducks' first line with center Ryan Getzlaf and right wing Corey Perry.

"It's OK," Selanne said of the position change. "When you've played your whole career on the right side, I'll just have to stay focused when we're coming out of our end and come back on the left side. It shouldn't be a problem."

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I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic