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Posted On Sunday, 12.29.2013 / 2:17 PM

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

Avalanche hoping to 'take care of business' at home

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche will try to end a three-game losing streak Sunday when they open a seven-game homestand against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have gone 0-1-2 in their past three games, which included a 7-2 loss Friday to the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.

"It's one of the key moments in our season," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said of the homestand. "We've been looking at the schedule and we knew that we had this stretch coming up. We're in a good position in the standings and now we need to be red-hot at home."

The Avalanche won their two previous games against the Jets this season, 3-2 on Oct. 27 at Pepsi Center and 4-3 in a Dec. 12 shootout in Winnipeg. They are 12-5-1 at home.

"If we take care of business like we can at home and use the altitude to our advantage, we can really build a great foundation going forward for this year," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said. "It can be a huge turning point for us. We want to be one of those teams that goes north after Christmas, not south. We've done that in the past. You can make the playoffs or lose the playoffs in January, believe it or not. It's a huge homestand for us and we have to dominate at home."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.19.2013 / 3:08 PM

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

Oilers, Avalanche looking to get untracked

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers, two teams looking to get back on track, meet Thursday at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have been held to two goals or fewer in five of their past eight games while posting a 3-4-1 record. They are 3-3-1 in their past seven home games after winning eight of the first 10, and are in a 1-for-37 slump on the power play in the past 12.

The Oilers have been outscored 10-2 and shut out twice while losing the first three games of a four-game road trip. They've lost four in a row overall and have been outscored 14-2.

Edmonton has beaten Colorado in five of the past six meetings, including an 8-2 win Dec. 5 at Rexall Place when Taylor Hall had three goals and an assist and goalie Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves.

Dubnyk has had a great deal of success against the Avalanche and will start Thursday. He's 8-3-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in 13 games against the Avalanche.

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Posted On Monday, 12.16.2013 / 4:24 PM

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

Roy wants to see Avalanche get more pucks to net

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said a lack of confidence has been a major factor in the team's recent offensive woes. The Avalanche have scored 12 goals during a 2-3-1 slump heading into their game Monday against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have been held to one goal three times and to two goals once in the streak. Colorado also has failed to score a power-play goal in 10 consecutive games, going 0-for-26 in this stretch.

"Put pucks at the net, simple things, and bear down on our chances," Roy said after the morning skate. "Right now we don't shoot with the confidence we should. All I'm asking is put pucks at the net and traffic. They have one of the best goalies [Kari Lehtonen] in the League and we're going to have to be good around the net if we want to score goals."

The Stars' power play hasn't been much better, going 2-for-21 in the past four games.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.14.2013 / 3:58 PM

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

Hejda returning to Avalanche lineup

DENVER -- Jan Hejda will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup Saturday to play against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center after missing four games with a sprained right knee.

The defenseman was injured Dec. 5 in the first period of and 8-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

"It feels good," he said after the morning skate. "Hopefully I didn't lose game shape. Nobody likes to be injured and watching the games on television. That's what I did for the last few games and it's not a good feeling. I'm really glad I can be a part of the game tonight."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 4:47 PM

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

Avalanche face Coyotes, Smith in critical game

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche know they could be in for a difficult game Tuesday against the Phoenix Coyotes and goalie Mike Smith at Pepsi Center.

Smith has frustrated the Avalanche as much as any goalie in the NHL, using his size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and ability to move from side to side to fashion an 8-1-3 record in 12 games against them, with a 1.85 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and one shutout.

"I think it's his athleticism," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said. "I played with him last season at Worlds [2013 IIHF World Championship] and I couldn't believe how good that guy is, especially for playing as deep in the net as he does. You can see a lot of net at times but it doesn't necessarily mean it's there. He's so good with his reflexes. You get a goal on him you know you did something really right."

The Avalanche had 44 shots at Smith on Nov. 21 and needed an overtime goal from Ryan O'Reilly for a 4-3 win against the Coyotes.

"We have to do the same thing, get a lot of shots and rebounds," Duchene said. "I think we scored more against him last time than he's used to against us."

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Posted On Saturday, 11.30.2013 / 2:54 PM

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

Stastny returns for Avalanche against Wild

DENVER -- Center Paul Stastny will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup Saturday against the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center after missing two games because of back spasms.

Stastny took part in the Avalanche's optional skate and is expected to skate on a line with left wing Jamie McGinn and right wing PA Parenteau.

The Avalanche are looking to sweep the home-and-home series with the Wild after winning the opening game 3-1 Friday at the Xcel Energy Center.

"It was actually something away from hockey; it just acted up," Stastny said of his back ailment. "To me, that's a positive. I'd rather it happen away from hockey. I wasn't comfortable doing certain things and I didn't want to put our team in jeopardy. I didn't want to play five minutes and have to leave. You want to be smart about it so it doesn't act up later."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.27.2013 / 9:08 PM

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

Duchene in, Stastny out for Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, who missed three games because of an oblique injury, is playing Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center.

Forward Paul Stastny is scratched due to back spasms.

Duchene, who leads the Avalanche in scoring with 12 goals and 20 points in 19 games, was injured Nov. 16 against the Florida Panthers.

"It's been torture," he said. "I feel like I've been out a month. I can't believe it's only been nine or 10 days. It feels like it's been a lot longer. I got better really quick and I thought I was going to be able to play on our (recent two-game) road trip and it was a whole different story. Four days went by and it stayed about the same and the last few days I've taken a good step and started to feel better. I'm really pleased with the way I am now."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.27.2013 / 3:56 PM

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

Duchene game-time decision for Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene, who has missed three games because of an oblique injury, took part in the morning skate and might play Wednesday against the St. Louis Blues at Pepsi Center.

Duchene and coach Patrick Roy said it will be a game-time decision.

"We'll see," Duchene said. "I'm going to prepare like I am [playing] and we'll see what happens."

Duchene, who leads the Avalanche in scoring with 12 goals and 20 points in 19 games, was injured Nov. 16 against the Florida Panthers.

"It's been torture," he said. "I feel like I've been out a month. I can't believe it's only been nine or 10 days. It feels like it's been a lot longer. I got better really quick and I thought I was going to be able to play on our (recent two-game) road trip and it was a whole different story. Four days went by and it stayed about the same and the last few days I've taken a good step and started to feel better. I'm really pleased with the way I am now."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.19.2013 / 3:43 PM

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

Star forwards sitting as Avalanche host Blackhawks

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche and Chicago Blackhawks will each be without a star forward when they play Tuesday at Pepsi Center.

Avalanche center Matt Duchene will miss his first game because of an oblique injury and Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa will miss his third straight game because of a lower-body injury.

The encouraging news for the Avalanche is coach Patrick Roy said Tuesday morning that Duchene might be able to play Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings, which would be sooner than expected. He was injured this past Saturday against the Florida Panthers.

Roy said Duchene probably would make the two-game road trip that starts Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.16.2013 / 3:47 PM

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

Avalanche's Roy still preaching positives

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy was accentuating the positive Saturday following the morning skate in preparation for his team's game against the Florida Panthers at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have a 14-4-0 record but have lost two games in a row for the first time this season and are coming off a 7-3 loss Thursday to the St. Louis Blues.

"There's no reason for us not to be confident," Roy said. "We have 28 points and if you look at the segment of 20 games, you do that four times it's 112 points without winning the next two [games]. It's not only going to help you make the playoffs, you're going to be pretty close to be first overall. We're going to go through games like this in a season. The good thing is we talked about it. There's an area in our game that needs to improve, and that's our game management. We can't take penalties in the offensive zone. We need to be smarter. There's a few plays defensively where we were not as sharp.

"We should be very happy with our start, but we cannot be satisfied. It's a big difference. When you're not satisfied it means you're aware there are things to improve in our game. The good thing is we're aware of those things."

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