Posted On Thursday, 11.06.2014 / 4:28 PM

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

At the Rink: Maple Leafs at Avalanche

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche are banking on a new defensive-zone coverage system to eliminate the amount of time they have been spending in their end while cutting down on the number of shots they've been allowing, an average of 35.5 per game.

The Avalanche will try it out Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Pepsi Center.

"We're going to make some changes," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said after the morning skate. "The fact that we're spending too much time in our end becomes a problem and you always try to find solutions. We need to find a way to play that our players are going to be very comfortable with, and that's what we're going to work on.

"I think it's going to simplify a lot of things. There's going to be more support (from the forwards) in our zone. We might not be perfect tonight, but these guys have been playing the zone for pretty much their entire career. I think it's an adjustment that could be made pretty easy in some ways. We practiced a bit with it this morning and I think we're going to be fine with it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.04.2014 / 4:03 PM

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

At the Rink: Canucks at Avalanche

DENVER -- One-goal games have been a bane for the Colorado Avalanche, who have played in eight of them and won once. It's been a major problem in their slow start to the season.

The Avalanche (3-5-5) are in last place in the Central Division and need to get on a roll starting with their game against the Vancouver Canucks (8-4-0) on Tuesday at Pepsi Center.

"We look at the standings and we know where we're at," right wing Jarome Iginla said after the morning skate. "We need to start climbing. We need to start getting some wins back. This is an important game for us, we all know that."

Iginla has two goals in the first 13 games and each came Oct. 24 in the Avalanche's 7-3 win against the Canucks, who were tired after playing the night before. That won't be the case Tuesday.

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Posted On Sunday, 11.02.2014 / 2:18 PM

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

At the Rink: Ducks vs. Avalanche

DENVER -- It's hard to fathom an Anaheim Ducks lineup that features high-scoring forwards like Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry having problems scoring goals.

Not that it has mattered much, since the Ducks lead the Western Conference with a 9-3-0 record heading into their game Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

The Ducks scored three goals in the first three games of their four-game road trip and won two of them, thanks to stingy defense and strong goaltending from Frederik Andersen and John Gibson.

Perry is among NHL leaders with 10 goals, but he went three games without a point before scoring a goal and an assist Friday in the Ducks 2-1 shootout win against the Dallas Stars.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.30.2014 / 3:16 PM

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

At the Rink: Islanders at Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is as surprised as anyone that Calder Trophy winner Nathan MacKinnon hasn't scored a goal this season.

"If you said to me after 10 games Nate would have zero goals, I would never believe that," Roy said. "Unfortunately, it is what it is."

Roy and MacKinnon, who scored 24 goals as a rookie last season, are hopeful he'll end his slump Thursday when the Avalanche play the New York Islanders at Pepsi Center.

"I'm not worried. I think I'm playing pretty solid," said MacKinnon, who has four assists and 28 shots on goal. "I had some chances last game. Everybody has a next level to bring here, which is exciting. I feel like everybody is motivated to play a little bit better and obviously I'm definitely a part of that group.

"Hopefully things change [Thursday]. The worst thing I can do is worry every night. It's a long season and we have lots of games left. Hopefully when one comes the net gets a little bigger. I don't want to change my game. I'm feeling good."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.28.2014 / 3:30 PM

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

At the Rink: Sharks at Avalanche

DENVER -- Jamie and Tye McGinn spent plenty of hours as children playing hockey in the backyard of their home in Fergus, Ontario, while hoping for the chance to make it as professionals.

They realized that dream and will play against each other for the first time since then Tuesday at Pepsi Center when Jamie's Colorado Avalanche face off against Tye's San Jose Sharks.

"It's one that was marked on the calendar," said Jamie, 26, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound left wing. "It'll be very exciting. We have our family here, so we're super excited, but I also have to focus on playing tonight, and playing hard."

Jamie, Tye, their parents, maternal grandparents and an aunt will be in attendance after having a family dinner Monday night.

"We were just enjoying the time," said Tye, 24, a 6-2, 205-pound left wing. "We don't get to spend too much together unless it's the offseason. Playing in the backyard was fun and this is going to be pretty special."

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Posted On Friday, 10.24.2014 / 3:42 PM

By Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent / - 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  - Correspondent / - 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  - Correspondent / - 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  - Correspondent / - 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  - Correspondent / - 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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Quote of the Day

Now we have an 'X' next to our name, which is nice. Now we have to keep trying to climb and catch these guys.

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