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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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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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Posted On Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 3:49 PM

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

Blackhawks' Raanta gets 'big stage' against Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy was skeptical that rookie goalie Antti Raanta, rather than Corey Crawford, would start Wednesday for the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center.

"We'll see at game time," Roy said after the morning skate.

Raanta will make his first start since Jan. 28 with second place in the Central Division on the line. Chicago (38-13-14) has a one-point lead (90-89) on third-place Colorado (42-18-5) and each team has 17 games remaining.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville decided on Raanta because Crawford has struggled against the Avalanche, who went 3-1-0 in the first four games between the teams this season. But Quenneville said Crawford would play if the teams meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"I think we've played some big games against them this year. We don't like our record and we're making a change," Quenneville said. "[Raanta] has played well for us all year. He hasn't played in a bit. We want to get him in here and we're giving him a big stage here as well. We're confident he can get the job done. He's had some big stretches. He was the guy for us and really put us in a good spot when [Crawford] was hurt. It'll definitely be a good measuring stick for him."

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Posted On Monday, 03.10.2014 / 4:38 PM

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

Avalanche minus Stastny against Jets

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Paul Stastny has a back injury and won't play Monday against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center.

Stastny, who has 20 goals and 27 assists in 58 games, was injured on his first shift in the opening minute Saturday in the Avalanche's 2-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he had "no idea" when Stastny would be available, but is hopeful he'll be able to play Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. Stastny missed two games earlier this season because of back spasms.

Rookie Nathan MacKinnon moved from right wing to center against the Blues after Stastny was injured and he'll be there again Monday, on a line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and right wing Jamie McGinn, who has moved from the third line.

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Posted On Saturday, 03.08.2014 / 11:18 AM

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

Avalanche look to make up ground against St. Louis

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche believe they are better prepared to handle the St. Louis Blues on Saturday at Pepsi Center than they were in two earlier meetings, both losses in November.

"In my opinion, we're a different team than the last two times we played them," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "We're playing better defensively and we made some adjustments in our system. I think it's good timing for us to see where we are against these guys. They made a couple trades, they have a new goalie [in Ryan Miller]. I think it's going to be interesting to see what we can do better. We'll see where we are."

Colorado (41-17-5) sits third in the jam-packed Central Division, three points behind first-place St. Louis (42-14-6) and one point behind the second-place Chicago Blackhawks (37-13-14).

"This is a big one," Avalanche center Matt Duchene said. "We've had this one marked on our calendar for a while."

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Posted On Sunday, 03.02.2014 / 3:08 PM

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

Avalanche's Johnson back from suspension

DENVER -- Defenseman Erik Johnson returns to the Colorado Avalanche lineup Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Pepsi Center after completing a two-game suspension for slashing New York Islanders forward Frans Nielsen in a Feb. 8 game.

"I'm excited," Johnson said. "It was tough going into the Olympic break knowing the first two games coming back I'd have to sit out. It wasn't the best news to hear. Any time you're not playing, it's hard. We're hockey players and we belong on the ice, so it was tough news to get. I had never been suspended before. I wanted to be out there playing, especially because it was a longer break with the Olympics."

The Avalanche went 1-1-0 without Johnson, who has seven goals, 17 assists and a plus-5 rating in 58 games while averaging a team-high 22:48 in ice time.

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Posted On Friday, 02.28.2014 / 3:39 PM

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

Roy wants to see Avalanche's Varlamov rebound

DENVER -- Semyon Varlamov will start in goal Friday when the Colorado Avalanche face the Phoenix Coyotes at Pepsi Center, his first appearance since playing three games for Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Varlamov last played in an NHL game Feb. 6 when he stopped 32 shots in a 3-1 road loss to thePhiladelphia Flyers. He lost his last two decisions before the Olympic break but has set a career high for wins in a season with 28 and has been the Avalanche's most valuable player.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he expects Varlamov to return to form after failing to win an Olympic medal for the host country.

"[Varlamov] is a great person and he wants to do well," Roy said. "I have no doubt in my mind that he's not happy about the way that he played and he's going to look at himself in the mirror. I think that's what makes a career. It's not always perfect. That's the way it was for me, anyway, and I think it's going to make him a better hockey player. It's going to help him approach how he's going to play until the end of the year and the playoffs. It's always how you bounce back."

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.26.2014 / 4:02 PM

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

Kings' Jones, Avalanche's Giguere likely to match up

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche are looking to pick up where they left off before the Olympic break when they play the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday at Pepsi Center, while the Kings are hoping to get back on the winning track.

The Avalanche (37-16-5) are 11-4-1 in their past 16 games and sit third in the Central Division, five points behind the first-place St. Louis Blues and second-place Chicago Blackhawks.

The Kings (31-22-6) are on a 2-8-1 slide and third in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of the ninth-place Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference.

Each team is expected to start its backup goalie, Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the Avalanche and Martin Jones for the Kings. Colorado's Semyon Varlamov played for Russia at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and Los Angeles' Jonathan Quick was in net for the United States.

"I feel everyone is feeling really good and recharged and ready to go," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "I was pleased with the intensity that we had in our practices. It's going to be a challenge, but I think we have quality people here and I'm very confident that we'll do well."

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Posted On Saturday, 02.01.2014 / 11:51 AM

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

Goaltenders Varlamov, Miller face off in Colorado

DENVER -- Semyon Varlamov, fresh off signing a five-year, $29.5 million contract extension, will start in goal Saturday when the Colorado Avalanche face the Buffalo Sabres at Pepsi Center. Varlamov went 10-1-1 in January, a franchise record for the month.

Center Paul Stastny and right wing Alex Tanguay will be game-time decisions. Stastny sustained an ankle injury in a collision with several players in the third period Thursday in the Avalanche's 5-4 win against the Minnesota Wild. Tanguay tweaked his knee in the third period.

Ryan Miller is expected to start in goal for the Sabres. Miller made 38 saves Thursday when the Sabres defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 and has gone 8-3-3 in his past 14 decisions. Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff missed that game with an illness but could be back in the lineup Saturday.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.30.2014 / 3:53 PM

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

Avalanche, Wild staying in race despite injuries

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild, who each have overcome significant injuries to remain in the hunt for Stanley Cup Playoff berths, play for the final time this season Thursday at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have lost 110 man-games to injuries and the Wild 144, yet each is in a heated race for third place in the Central Division. Colorado enters with 71 points in 52 games while fourth-place Minnesota has 64 points in 55 games. Each team has gone 9-3-1 in January.

Avalanche right wing Alex Tanguay has returned to the lineup after missing 36 games with knee and hip injuries, while left wing Zach Parise is back with the Wild after sitting out 14 games with a foot injury. Tanguay has a game-winning goal and an assist in two games since rejoining the lineup. Parise has a game-winning goal and two assists in three games since coming back.

The Avalanche are 14-1-0 with Tanguay, who will play his first home game since he was injured Nov. 2 against the Montreal Canadiens.

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.21.2014 / 3:26 PM

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

Maple Leafs enjoy run; Parenteau back for Avalanche

DENVER -- It wasn't a coincidence that Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak wore an orange-and-blue-striped dress shirt Tuesday while a handful of teammates took part in an optional skate at Pepsi Center.

Bozak is a Denver Broncos fan, and those are the Super Bowl-bound team's colors. Bozak, who attended the University of Denver for two years and makes his offseason home in Denver, is friends with Toronto native and Broncos offensive tackle Orlando Franklin, who will attend the game Tuesday between the Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche.

"I told him to bring Peyton [Manning], but I don't know if he's going to," said Bozak, who has been limited to 27 games because of hamstring and oblique injuries.

Bozak is excited about playing before friends and the fact the Maple Leafs have won five games in a row to move back into the hunt for a Stanley Cup Playoff berth.


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Posted On Thursday, 01.16.2014 / 4:30 PM

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

Devils to have Elias back in the lineup

DENVER -- The New Jersey Devils will have forward Patrik Elias back in the lineup Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center as they continue their push for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Elias has missed seven games with what the Devils called "total body soreness" following a Dec. 31 game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"Patty's going to play [Thursday]," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said after the team's morning skate. "He makes us 10 percent better in all kinds of different areas. I'm sure there's going to be a little rust on him after missing some time, but it's nice to have him back and it's a nice shot of energy for us halfway through this road trip."

DeBoer hadn't decided on how Elias' return would affect his line combinations.

"We might make some tweaks," he said, adding he would dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

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Posted On Friday, 01.10.2014 / 4:12 PM

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

Avalanche coach Roy familiar with Islanders' Poulin

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy once described Kevin Poulin as the best goalie in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Roy will see first-hand how much progress Poulin has made when he starts Friday for the New York Islanders at Pepsi Center.

Roy was coaching the Quebec Remparts when Poulin was playing for the Victoriaville Tigres. Now 23, Poulin was a fifth-round pick (No. 126) of the Islanders in the 2008 NHL Draft and is in his fourth season with the team.

"He played well in junior," Roy said. "We played him one year in the playoffs and he was outstanding. I thought he was the reason why their team beat us. I'm happy to see him have a bit of success. Unfortunately, we don't see too much about the Islanders, but he seems to be taking advantage of that opportunity.

"It's a team that's playing with a lot of confidence right now. In order to have a winning streak, you need to have good goaltending. I'm sure Kevin is doing that for them."


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Posted On Wednesday, 01.08.2014 / 4:04 PM

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

O'Reilly out for Avalanche; Spezza back for Senators

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche will be without right wing Ryan O'Reilly for the first time this season Wednesday when they play the Ottawa Senators at Pepsi Center.

O'Reilly sustained a left shoulder injury Monday in the Avalanche's 4-3 loss to the Calgary Flames. John Mitchell will take his place on a line with Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny. Rookie Nathan MacKinnon will move to left wing with Matt Duchene and Jamie McGinn.

The Avalanche also will need to shuffle the third and fourth lines. Marc-Andre Cliche will center the third line with Cody McLeod and Maxime Talbot, while Brad Malone will center the fourth line with David Van Der Gulik, who was recalled from Lake Erie of the American Hockey League, and Patrick Bordeleau.

Colorado is 3-1-1 in the first five games of a seven-game homestand and coming off that disappointing loss to the Flames.

"You always want to bounce back from a game like we played against Calgary," coach Patrick Roy said. "It will be important for us to finish the homestand on the right foot. We want to play well tonight, there's no doubt about it. We're playing a team that won their last four games and they're coming here with a lot of confidence."


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Posted On Monday, 01.06.2014 / 4:17 PM

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

Avalanche say they still fear goal-starved Flames

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said it would be a mistake for his team to take the struggling Calgary Flames lightly Monday at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche are in third place in the Central Division with 26 wins and 56 points in 41 games. They've won three games in a row and are 3-0-1 in the first four games of their seven-game homestand.

The Flames are sixth in the Pacific Division with 14 wins and 34 points. They've gone 1-6-2 in their past nine games and have scored one goal during a four-game losing streak.

"If we think we're going to have an easy game, we're wrong," Roy said. "[Calgary] is a team that's going to work hard. This is a team that's almost in every game. I know a lot of times they finish on the wrong side, but at the same time they're going to work hard and they're going to give us a good battle. We're going to have to be ready for these guys because I expect them to play a good game tonight."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.04.2014 / 11:13 AM

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

Avalanche forward Tanguay could have surgery

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he would know early next week whether injured right wing Alex Tanguay will need hip surgery.

Tanguay has been sidelined since he sustained knee and hip injuries in a Nov. 2 game against the Montreal Canadiens.

"Monday or Tuesday will be a big test for him," Roy said. "He's going to skate and if it goes well, we'll keep going [with his rehab program]. If it's not, then we're probably going to have to have surgery for his hip. That's where we are."

The Avalanche have gone 2-0-1 in the first three games of their seven-game homestand heading into the game Saturday against the San Jose Sharks at Pepsi Center.

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Posted On Thursday, 01.02.2014 / 4:28 PM

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

Talbot, Downie facing former teammates

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche forward Maxime Talbot is looking forward to playing against his former Philadelphia Flyers teammates Thursday at Pepsi Center.

The teams are playing for the first time since the Avalanche acquired Talbot from the Flyers in exchange for forward Steve Downie on Oct. 31.

Talbot has three goals and six assists in 28 games since the trade and has been one of the Avalanche's top penalty killers. The Avalanche have gone 14-10-4 since the trade and enter Thursday in third place in the Central Division.

"It's fun," Talbot said. "I look forward to these games. It's exciting. You play against 20 guys that you battled with and that you know, the coaching staff, everybody. So it's always exciting and a little bit of fun. You look forward to it."

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.31.2013 / 3:10 PM

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

Blue Jackets expect festive atmosphere in Colorado

DENVER -- Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards is expecting a festive atmosphere Tuesday at Pepsi Center when his team faces the Colorado Avalanche.

"It's probably going to be a unique environment tonight, just being New Year's [Eve] and based on the success they have had so far this year," Richards said. "You can see it on TV. There's more people [attending games]. There is going to be more energy."

The Avalanche are playing at home on New Year's Eve for the third time since the franchise has been in Denver and the first time at Pepsi Center. The previous two games were played at McNichols Sports Arena in 1998 (a 6-3 loss to the New York Rangers) and 1997 (a 3-1 win against the New York Islanders).

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is just interested in putting an end to the team's four-game losing streak (0-1-3) that includes two shootout losses and one in overtime.


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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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Posted On Sunday, 11.10.2013 / 2:10 PM

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

Avalanche to start Varlamov against Capitals

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov will start against his former Washington Capitals teammates for the second time in four weeks Sunday at Pepsi Center.

Varlamov stopped 40 shots Oct. 12 in the Avalanche's 5-1 win at Verizon Center. It was his first game against the Capitals since his trade to the Avalanche on July 1, 2011.

Varlamov said after that game he was so nervous his legs were shaking in the first period.

"I think it's always a nice challenge to play against your ex-team," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "It was the same case for me every time we played Montreal. You always want to do well in those games. It's nothing against your ex-team, it's just the pride that comes into play. You want to perform well and you want to have a strong night. I'm sure he is going to be very focused."

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Posted On Friday, 11.08.2013 / 3:18 PM

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

Roy, Hartley reunite as Avalanche host Flames

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is looking forward to seeing his Calgary Flames counterpart, Bob Hartley, when the teams meet Friday at Pepsi Center.

Roy was tending goal when Hartley coached the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup championship in 2001 and the two men have maintained a close relationship.

"I have a lot of respect for Bob," Roy said Friday. "Over the past years he always said, 'Hey, call me. If you need something, I'll be there for you.' He's always been there for me. He called me when I got the [Avalanche coaching position], he called me in the summer, he called me before the start of the season. In training camp he called me. We're talking a lot."

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.06.2013 / 4:22 PM

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

Avalanche have shot at making history

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche can make NHL history Wednesday night if they defeat the Nashville Predators at Pepsi Center. A win would give them a 13-1-0 record to match the 2007-08 Ottawa Senators as the only teams in League history to begin a season with 13 wins in the first 14 games.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is more interested in getting off to a fast start against the Predators, who will be playing the third of a seven-game, 17-day road trip to accommodate the Country Music Association awards Wednesday night at Bridgestone Arena.

"We need to focus on preparing ourselves for tonight and make sure we focus when we get to the rink, make sure that we play a strong game and especially have a strong start," Roy said Wednesday morning. "These guys are on the road for a long time, and I'm sure they're going to want to have a good start and try to win that first period. It'll be important for us to be ready right at the start of this game."


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Posted On Saturday, 11.02.2013 / 4:08 PM

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

Roy facing Canadiens as Avalanche coach

DENVER -- A two-time Stanley Cup champion goalie with the Montreal Canadiens, Patrick Roy will face his former team for the first time as Colorado Avalanche coach Saturday at Pepsi Center.

"I've been saying to everybody, it's just another game, but deep inside I guess it's not," Roy said Saturday morning. "It's always special playing against a former team. But I have so much respect for them. Things are so much different than when I was traded."

Roy left Montreal on bad terms when he was traded to the Avalanche on Dec. 6, 1995. He helped the Avalanche to two Stanley Cup championships before retiring after the 2002-03 season. The Avalanche retired his No. 33 jersey in October 2003 and the Canadiens did the same five years later.

"I'm so happy to have a good relationship with the Montreal Canadiens," Roy said. "When they retired my jersey, I appreciated that. It was great for me to see my jersey there. I was happy that (Canadiens general manager) Marc Bergevin gave me a call. I respect him a lot the way he handled the situation. Even now I speak to him on the phone here and there but always with a lot of respect."

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Posted On Sunday, 10.27.2013 / 2:49 PM

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

Varlamov, Avalanche seek to continue torrid start

DENVER -- Off to the best start in franchise history, the Central Division-leading Colorado Avalanche close out a two-game homestand Sunday evening against the Winnipeg Jets at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have posted a 9-1-0 record to tie the 1994-95 Quebec Nordiques, who also won nine of their first 10 games and went 12-1-0 in their first 13 games. The Avalanche also registered 18 points in their first 10 games in the 2000-01 Stanley Cup championship season when they went 8-0-2 and improved to 9-0-2 before losing in regulation for the first time.

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal for the Avalanche, who have won three games in a row. Varlamov has won six of seven starts with a 1.73 goals-against average and .948 save percentage.

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Posted On Friday, 10.25.2013 / 3:39 PM

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

Banged-up Hurricanes to start Peters vs. Avalanche

DENVER -- The Carolina Hurricanes will hobble into Pepsi Center on Friday to play the Colorado Avalanche with two goalies who began the season in the American Hockey League.

Justin Peters, who replaced injured Cam Ward early in the first period against the Minnesota Wild in a 3-1 loss Thursday, will start in goal against the Avalanche.

Ward sustained a lower-body injury when he kicked out his right leg in an attempt to stop a shot by Mikael Granlund that went wide. Ward has been placed on injured reserve and is expected to miss 3-4 weeks.

Peters, who stopped 19 of 21 shots Thursday, had been recalled from the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League on Oct. 14 after backup goalie Anton Khudobin sustained a lower-body injury in an Oct. 13 game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The Hurricanes called up Mike Murphy from Charlotte on an emergency basis Friday to dress as Peters' backup against the Avalanche. A sixth-round pick (No. 165) in the 2008 NHL Draft, Murphy is 1-2-0 with a 3.81 goals-against average in three AHL games this season.

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Posted On Thursday, 10.17.2013 / 4:31 PM

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

Roy to Avalanche: 'Stay humble' as they chase 7-0-0

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche can tie a franchise record for consecutive wins to begin a season (seven) with a victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night at Pepsi Center. The Quebec Nordiques began the 1985-86 season with a 7-0-0 record.

But Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said Thursday morning he wants his players to remain "humble" and to focus more on what they need to do against the Red Wings rather than be concerned about the record.

"I'm saying to the players every day, let's stay humble," he said. "We want them to be humble, we want them to take it one day at a time. When we met Ray Bourque in Boston (last week before the Avalanche's 2-0 win against the Bruins), Ray said, why not us? Those have been the words we've been using, why not another win tonight? We certainly want to focus on things we control, and what we control is how we're going to prepare ourselves tonight."

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Posted On Tuesday, 10.15.2013 / 4:45 PM

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

Avalanche look to tighten defense against Stars

DENVER -- While the Colorado Avalanche have gotten off to a 5-0 start for the first time since they were the Quebec Nordiques in 1994-95, coach Patrick Roy said not all is perfect with his team heading into Tuesday night's game against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche were outshot 19-7 in the second period of a 5-1 win Saturday in Washington when Semyon Varlamov was in goal. They were outshot 15-6 in the second period of their Oct. 10 game in Boston, a 2-0 win behind the goaltending of Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

"The last two games, I think we gave up too much in the second period both times," Roy said Tuesday. "It was at the end of our trip when we had the lead. Things like that happen. We'd like to cut down a bit on shots. The chances, we gave a bit too many, though not as bad as it appears.

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Posted On Friday, 10.04.2013 / 3:26 PM

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

Avalanche captain Landeskog out with leg injury

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will miss the game Friday against the Nashville Predators at Pepsi Center because of a leg injury.

Landeskog was hurt in Wednesday's season-opening 6-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks and is listed as day to day. John Mitchell, who centered the fourth line against the Ducks, will replace Landeskog at left wing on a line with Paul Stastny and Alex TanguayMarc-Andre Cliche will center the fourth line with Cody McLeod and Patrick Bordeleau.

Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said he expects Landeskog to resume skating Sunday and to accompany the team on a three-game trip that starts Tuesday in Toronto.

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Posted On Wednesday, 10.02.2013 / 4:22 PM

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

Roy, Selanne feel opening-night butterflies

DENVER -- Patrick Roy and Teemu Selanne will mark individual milestones Wednesday night at the Pepsi Center when the Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks begin regular-season play.

It will be Roy's first NHL game as a head coach when he goes behind the Avalanche bench. For Selanne, who has told the Ducks he plans to retire after the season, it will be his 22nd and final opening night.

"Yes, I'm nervous," Roy said following the morning skate. "There's nothing wrong for me to be nervous. I'm a proud person and I want to do well. I care, and when you care you have to be a bit nervous. I'm curious also to see the difference between preseason and how the (opposing) coaches are going to deal during the games, the adjustments I'm going to have to make. I'm convinced I'm going to learn a lot this year.

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 7:20 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Avalanche captain Landeskog expects better season

DENVER -- Gabriel Landeskog expects his second season as Colorado Avalanche captain to go more smoothly than his first. Named captain by coach Joe Sacco before the lockout-shortened season started, Landeskog missed 12 games with a head injury, slumped to nine goals and 17 points, and the Avalanche missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third year in a row.

"Last year was a little weird, to say the least, coming in after a lockout and having the 'C' on my jersey for just a few months," said Landeskog, who won the Calder Trophy in 2011-12 after scoring 22 goals and 52 points in 82 games. "It was a little weird. Now I know more what to expect. I'm not saying I'm the perfect captain, but it takes a while and there are a lot of great guys around here who are going to help me.

"(New Avalanche coach) Patrick (Roy) knows what it's like to be a leader in the dressing room, and I'm going to talk to him a lot. We're looking forward to having a little bit of a fresh start."

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Posted On Wednesday, 09.11.2013 / 7:17 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Training Camp 2013 blog

Downie cleared to return to ice for Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche right wing Steve Downie has recovered from the torn anterior cruciate knee ligament he sustained in the second game of last season and will take part in on-ice workouts Thursday.

Downie, 26, is expected to skate on the third line this season with rookie center Nathan MacKinnon and left wing Jamie McGinn.

"He's cleared to play," Roy said of Downie. "I met him in June and he took [his rehabilitation] very seriously, and I'm very proud of him. He really worked hard and he's ready to play. He's an important player for us. His game is something that this team needs."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.27.2013 / 1:28 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Wild get ready for a regular-season 'Game 7'

DENVER -- Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo has called Saturday's regular-season finale against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center a "Game 7," and with good reason. The Wild would secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a win, but they would miss out with a regulation loss if the Columbus Blue Jackets win or gain a point in their home game with the Nashville Predators.

If the Wild and Blue Jackets finish tied in the standings -- each has 53 points -- Minnesota makes it to the postseason because it holds the tiebreaker with Columbus. The Wild also could move from eighth place in the Western Conference to seventh, depending how the Detroit Red Wings, who have 54 points, fare in their game at the Dallas Stars.

Goalie Niklas Backstrom is expected to start for the Wild despite getting pulled after allowing three goals on five shots in the first period Friday in a 6-1 home loss to the Edmonton Oilers. Backstrom has gone 10-2-1 with a 2.10 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in his past 13 games in Denver, where the Wild have gone 11-2-2 in their past 15 visits.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the Wild were expected to recall forwards Jason Zucker and Stephane Veilleux from the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League and return Jake Dowell and Carson McMillan.

Each team played Friday -- the Avalanche pulled out a 5-4 shootout win at the Phoenix Coyotes -- and neither skated Saturday morning.

Here are the projected lineups:

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Posted On Sunday, 04.21.2013 / 7:57 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Lineups for Blues, Avalanche

DENVER – Here are the projected lineups for Sunday’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

BLUES

Alexander SteenDavid BackesDavid Perron

Andy McDonaldVladimir SobotkaChris Stewart

Dmitrij JaskinPatrik BerglundVladimir Tarasenko

Jaden SchwartzChris PorterRyan Reaves

Jay BouwmeesterAlex Pietrangelo

Jordan LeopoldKevin Shattenkirk

Barret JackmanRoman Polak

Brian Elliott

Jake Allen

Scratched: Adam Cracknell, Ian Cole, Jaroslav Halak, Andrew Murray, Scott Nichol, Kris Russell

Injured: Jamie Langenbrunner (hip), T.J. Oshie (ankle)

AVALANCHE

John MitchellMatt DuchenePA Parenteau

Cody McLeod – Ryan O’Reilly -- Gabriel Landeskog

Jamie McGinnPaul StastnyAaron Palushaj

Patrick BordeleauMark Olver -- Chuck Kobasew

Greg ZanonTyson Barrie

Jan HejdaStefan Elliott

Matt Hunwick – Shane O’Brien

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Semyon Varlamov

Scratched: David Jones, Milan Hejduk

Injured: Steve Downie (knee), Erik Johnson (wrist), Ryan Wilson (ankle)

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Posted On Friday, 04.19.2013 / 3:20 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Hejduk makes return to Avalanche lineup

DENVER -- Right wing Milan Hejduk will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup Friday against the Edmonton Oilers after missing nine games, five with a torso injury and the past four as a healthy scratch.

Avalanche coach Joe Sakic said he hadn't decided where Hejduk would play or who he would replace.

"He'll probably get some power-play time and he may bounce around a little bit with some different line combinations," Sacco said.

Goalie Semyon Varlamov will start for the first time since the Avalanche's 4-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on April 6. He missed four games with hip and groin injuries and dressed as the backup for Jean-Sebastien Giguere in Monday's 4-3 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Goalie Devan Dubnyk will start for the Oilers. Dubnyk made 35 saves in a 4-0 win against the Avalanche on March 12. He has a 6-3-1 record with a 2.03 goals-against average and .940 save percentage in 10 career decisions against Colorado.

Here are the projected lineups for Friday's game:

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Posted On Monday, 04.15.2013 / 2:46 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blue Jackets, Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov has recovered from a hip injury that caused him to miss three games, so the team on Monday reassigned rookie goalie Sami Aittokallio to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.

Varlamov will dress as Jean-Sebastien Giguere's backup Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Center Chuck Kobasew will replace Mark Olver on the fourth line. Kobasew missed eight games with a back injury.

For the Blue Jackets, Brandon Dubinsky will move from left wing to center on the second line, replacing injured center Artem Anisimov. Anisimov is listed as day-to-day after sustaining a head injury on a hit from the Minnesota Wild's Charlie Coyle in the first period Saturday in the Blue Jackets' 3-2 shootout win. Blake Comeau, who was a healthy scratch the past two games, will play left wing on the fourth line.

Here are the projected lineups for Monday's game:

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Posted On Monday, 04.08.2013 / 3:09 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Flames recall Baertschi; Avalanche get Jones back

DENVER -- The Calgary Flames recalled left wing Sven Baertschi from the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League on Sunday and he is expected to play Monday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Baertschi, 20, had one assist in 10 previous games with the Flames this season. He was the Flames' No. 1 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft and had 10 goals and 15 assists in 31 games for Abbotsford.

On the other side, right wing David Jones will return to the Avalanche lineup after missing eight games with a knee injury. Jones has struggled this season with just three goals in 27 games. He has gone 10 games without a point.

Here are the projected lineups for Monday's game:


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Posted On Friday, 04.05.2013 / 3:06 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Quincey expected back, Dekeyser to make NHL debut

DENVER -- The Detroit Red Wings will have a different look on defense Friday night when they meet the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Kyle Quincey is expected to play after missing nine games with a fractured cheekbone, and Danny Dekeyser will make his NHL debut after playing three seasons at Western Michigan University.

Quincey, 27, who was injured in a March 15 game against the Edmonton Oilers, has one goal and one assist in 26 games. Dekeyser, 22, signed a two-year contract with the Red Wings on March 30. He was Western Michigan's captain this season and had two goals and 13 assists in 35 games.

Here are the projected lineups for Friday's game between the Red Wings and Avalanche:

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Posted On Wednesday, 03.20.2013 / 3:14 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Avalanche scratch 'underachieving' Jones, McGinn

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco is shaking up the lineup for the game Wednesday against the Dallas Stars at Pepsi Center, scratching healthy forwards David Jones and Jamie McGinn.

Jones has gone nine games without a point, and has three goals, four assists and a minus-10 rating in 26 games. McGinn has gone five games without a point, and has one goal and one assist in 14 games despite playing on the Avalanche's top line with Matt Duchene and PA Parenteau. McGinn has four goals, nine assists and a minus-10 rating in 28 games.

"It's a case of just underachieving," Sacco said after the morning skate.
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Posted On Monday, 03.18.2013 / 2:51 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blackhawks, Avalanche

DENVER -- Here are the projected lineups for the game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche on Monday at Pepsi Center.

BLACKHAWKS

Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa

Jimmy Hayes - Dave Bolland - Patrick Kane

Bryan Bickell - Andrew Shaw - Viktor Stalberg

Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook

Niklas Hjalmarsson - Johnny Oduya

Nick Leddy - Michal Rozsival

Ray Emery

Corey Crawford

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 9:04 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Avalanche send down Barrie; Hejduk could return

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche announced Tuesday night that defenseman Tyson Barrie has been assigned to Lake Erie of the American Hockey League, which could pave the way for right wing Milan Hejduk to be activated from injured reserve.

Hejduk will miss his fifth consecutive game Tuesday night because of a torso injury when the Avalanche play the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center. Hejduk took part in the morning skate Tuesday and is expected to practice Wednesday.

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.12.2013 / 3:46 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Dubnyk back in goal for Oilers

DENVER -- Devan Dubnyk will start in goal for the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday against the Colorado Avalanche.

He left the Oilers' game Sunday at the Chicago Blackhawks in the second period because of a sore neck following a collision with teammate Teemu Hartikainen after stopping the Blackhawks' Marian Hossa on a breakaway.

Dubnyk is 5-3-1 with a 2.24 goals-against average in 10 games against Colorado. The Oilers are 2-4-2 in the first eight games of their current nine-game trip which started Feb. 25 with a 3-2 overtime loss in Chicago.

Colorado right wing Milan Hejduk took part in the morning skate Tuesday and is expected to practice Wednesday. Hejduk is on injured reserve with a torso injury. He will miss his fifth consecutive game Tuesday, might be available for the Avs' game Thursday at the Minnesota Wild.

Here are the projected lineups for the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche for their game Tuesday at Pepsi Center:

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Posted On Sunday, 03.10.2013 / 2:48 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Sharks, Avalanche

DENVER -- Here are the projected lineups for Sunday night's game between the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

SHARKS

Logan CoutureJoe ThorntonTommy Wingels

Tim KennedyPatrick MarleauJoe Pavelski

Ryane CloweScott GomezJames Sheppard/TJ Galiardi

Andrew DesjardinsMichal HandzusAdam Burish

Matt IrwinDan Boyle

Brad StuartMarc-Edouard Vlasic

Douglas MurrayJustin Braun

Antti Niemi

Alex Stalock

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Posted On Friday, 03.08.2013 / 6:03 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blackhawks, Avalanche

DENVER – Here are the projected lineups for Friday night’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

Blackhawks right wing Patrick Sharp will miss between three and four weeks with what coach Joel Quenneville said is an upper-body injury suffered in Wednesday’s game against the Avalanche. Kane won’t need surgery, Quenneville said. Right wing Marian Hossa will play after missing Wednesday’s game with an upper-body injury.

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Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:55 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Flames, Avalanche

DENVER -- Here are the projected lineups for Thursday night's game between the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

FLAMES

Alex TanguayMatt StajanJarome Iginla

Curtis GlencrossMike CammalleriLee Stempniak

Sven BaertschiBlake Comeau -- Jiri Hudler

Akim AliuSteve BeginTim Jackman

Mark Giordano -- Jay Bouwmeester

Chris ButlerCory Sarich

TJ BrodieDennis Wideman

Joey MacDonald

Daniel Taylor


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Posted On Thursday, 02.28.2013 / 2:30 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Duchene declares himself ready to return for Avs

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche center Matt Duchene will be back in the lineup Thursday night to play against the Calgary Flames at Pepsi Center.

Duchene missed Tuesday's game at the San Jose Sharks because of a groin injury.

"I feel good to go," Duchene said Thursday morning after taking part in the pregame skate. "I felt like I had that step. The last game-and-a-half I felt pretty awful and I definitely feel better than that, so that's a positive. Let's hope it feels good throughout the game.

"I pushed it pretty hard (Thursday) and I'm usually pretty honest with myself. It's really hard for me to sit games out. Even last game it was really hard to be in the room just watching rather than being out there. It feels good enough to go, so that's the decision."

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 3:34 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Halak expected to return for Blues vs. Avalanche

DENVER -- Here are the projected lineups for Wednesday night's game between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

BLUES

David PerronDavid BackesT.J. Oshie

Andy McDonaldAlex SteenVladimir Tarasenko

Vladimir SobotkaPatrik BerglundChris Stewart

Jaden SchwartzScott NicholRyan Reaves

Ian ColeAlex Pietrangelo

Barret JackmanKevin Shattenkirk

Kris Russell/Wade ReddenRoman Polak

Jaroslav Halak

Jake Allen

Scratches: Brian Elliott, Matt D'Agostini, Redden or Russell

Injuries: Jamie Langenbrunner (hip)

Halak is expected to start in goal against the Avalanche. He has missed eight games since suffering a groin injury in a Feb. 1 game against the Detroit Red Wings. Halak has a 2-2-1 record in eight career starts against Colorado with a 2.97 goals-against average and .909 save percentage.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.20.2013 / 3:30 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Landeskog expecting to practice Friday

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, last season's Calder Trophy winner, skated for the sixth consecutive day Wednesday. He is expected to practice Friday -- the Avalanche aren't practicing Thursday -- and he might accompany the team on a three-game trip that begins Saturday at the Los Angeles Kings.

Landeskog will miss his 11th consecutive game Wednesday night since suffering head and leg injuries Jan. 26 on a hit by San Jose Sharks defenseman Brad Stuart.

"It's been feeling better and better," Landeskog said in his first public comments since getting hurt. "The hands aren't quite there yet, the feet aren't quite there yet and my lungs aren't quite there yet, but I'm working on it."

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Posted On Monday, 02.11.2013 / 2:27 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Coyotes, Avalanche

DENVER -- Here are the projected lineups for Monday night's game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

COYOTES

Steve SullivanAntoine VermetteShane Doan

Mikkel BoedkerMartin HanzalRadim Vrbata

Lauri KorpikoskiBoyd GordonDavid Moss

Raffi TorresKyle ChipchuraNick Johnson

Oliver Ekman-LarssonZbynek Michalek

Keith YandleDerek Morris

Rostislav KleslaMichael Stone

Mike Smith

Jason LaBarbera

Scratches: Paul Bissonnette, Chris Summers

Injuries: Matthew Lombardi (upper body), David Schlemko (shoulder)

AVALANCHE

Jamie McGinnMatt DuchenePA Parenteau

Aaron PalushajPaul StastnyDavid Jones

Cody McLeodMichael SgarbossaMilan Hejduk

Chuck KobasewMark Olver -- Patrick Bordeleau

Ryan O'Byrne -- Jan Hejda

Erik JohnsonTyson Barrie

Greg ZanonShane O'Brien

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratches: None

Injuries: Steve Downie (knee), Matt Hunwick (torso), Gabriel Landeskog (head), John Mitchell (flu), Ryan Wilson (ankle)

Palushaj will make his Avalanche debut. He was claimed off waivers Feb. 5 from Montreal. Palushaj, 23, has one goal and four assists in 41 career NHL games. He had one goal and four assists in 38 games last season with the Canadiens, and 15 goals and 20 assists in 35 games with Hamilton in the American Hockey League.

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Posted On Wednesday, 02.06.2013 / 3:41 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Ducks-Avalanche

DENVER – Here are the projected lineups for Wednesday night’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center.

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t announce whether Jonas Hiller or Viktor Fasth would start in goal. Forward David Jones will return to the Avalanche lineup after missing two games with a knee injury.

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Posted On Monday, 02.04.2013 / 3:04 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Stars, Avalanche

DENVER -- Here are the projected lineups for Monday night’s game between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

STARS

Brenden MorrowJamie BennJaromir Jagr

Loui ErikssonDerek RoyTomas Vincour

Reilly SmithCody EakinMichael Ryder

Eric Nystrom/Antoine RousselVernon FiddlerTom Wandell

Brenden DillonStephane Robidas

Aaron RomeTrevor Daley

Alex GoligoskiJamie Oleksiak

Kari Lehtonen

Richard Bachman

Scratched: Jordie Benn

Injuries: Ray Whitney (foot)

AVALANCHE

Jamie McGinnMatt DuchenePA Parenteau

John MitchellPaul Stastny -- Milan Hejduk

Cody McLeodMark OlverChuck Kobasew

David Van Der GulikMichael Sgarbossa -- Patrick Bordeleau

Ryan O'Byrne -- Jan Hejda

Erik JohnsonMatt Hunwick

Greg ZanonShane O'Brien

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratches: Tyson Barrie

Injuries: Steve Downie (knee), David Jones (knee), Gabriel Landeskog (head), Ryan Wilson (ankle)

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Posted On Thursday, 01.24.2013 / 3:14 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blue Jackets, Avalanche

DENVER -- Here are Thursday night's projected lineups for the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

BLUE JACKETS

Brandon DubinskyArtem AnisimovCam Atkinson

Nick FolignoRyan JohansenVinny Prospal

RJ UmbergerDerick BrassardDerek Dorsett

Matt CalvertMark LetestuJared Boll

Jack JohnsonJames Wisniewski

Fedor TyutinNikita Nikitin

John MooreAdrian Aucoin

Sergei Bobrovsky

Steve Mason

Scratched: Colton Gillies, David Savard

No injuries

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - PA Parenteau

Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones

Chuck Kobasew/Cody McLeod - John Mitchell - Milan Hejduk

Kobasew/Cody McLeodMark Olver - Patrick Bordeleau

Ryan O'Byrne - Jan Hejda

Ryan Wilson - Erik Johnson

Greg ZanonMatt Hunwick

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratches: Tyson Barrie, Brad Malone, Shane O'Brien

Injuries: Steve Downie (knee)

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Posted On Tuesday, 01.22.2013 / 3:55 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

Kings welcome Kopitar back against Avalanche

DENVER -- Center Anze Kopitar will make his season debut for the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

Kopitar, who led the Stanley Cup champions in scoring last season with 76 points (25 goals, 51 assists) in 82 games, missed Saturday's season-opening 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks with a sprained right knee he sustained while playing in Sweden during the lockout.

Kopitar will skate between usual linemates Dustin Brown and Justin Williams.

"It feels good," Kopitar said after Tuesday's morning skate. "I just felt good all week pretty much. The last couple practices have been pretty intense and going all out it felt good. I think I'm ready to play. We wanted to be smart, but you can't baby it forever."

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Posted On Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 2:47 PM

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

Projected lineups for Predators, Avalanche

DENVER – These are the projected lineups for a matchup Saturday between the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

PREDATORS

Sergei Kostitsyn -- Mike Fisher -- Martin Erat
Andrei KostitsynDavid Legwand -- Alexander Radulov
Gabriel BourqueNick SpalingPatric Hornqvist
Jordin TootooPaul GaustadBrandon Yip

Ryan Suter -- Shea Weber
Francis BouillonKevin Klein
Hal Gill -- Roman Josi
 
Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

Injuries: None

AVALANCHE

Mark Olver -- Ryan O’Reilly -- Gabriel Landeskog
Jamie McGinn -- Paul Stastny -- David Jones
Milan Hejduk -- Matt Duchene -- Steve Downie
Cody McLeod -- Jay McClement -- Peter Mueller

Jan Hejda – Ryan O’Byrne
Matt HunwickErik Johnson
Shane O’Brien – Tyson Barrie

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: D Ryan Wilson (torso) is out   
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Posted On Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 3:30 PM

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

Avs still pushing for playoffs despite long odds

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche players will know Thursday night whether they still have a chance to earn a Western Conference playoff spot or can begin making offseason plans.

In order to remain in the hunt for the eighth and final postseason berth, the Avalanche need a regulation win against the Columbus Blue Jackets and hope the Los Angeles Kings can beat the San Jose Sharks at home in regulation.

The Avalanche also would need a win Saturday against Nashville, while the Sharks would need to lose in regulation that night to the Kings at home. Complicating matters, the Stars can't collect more than two points in their final two games, Thursday at Nashville and Saturday at home against the St. Louis Blues.

"All we can control is what we do tonight, and it starts with a good start to the game and playing playoff hockey," said Avalanche left wing Jamie McGinn, who will return to the lineup after missing one game with a back injury. "If we do that and set the tempo, we take care of our end and hopefully everything else works out and San Jose loses tonight."

The Avalanche enters Thursday's games 10th in the Western Conference with 88 points and 32 regulation/overtime wins. The Sharks are eighth with 92 points and 33 regulation/overtime wins, while the Dallas Stars sit ninth with 89 points and 35 regulation/overtime wins.

"You can't get too stressed or uptight about it," McGinn said. "We have to be relaxed and just play our game. I hope the Kings pull it out tonight, but we can't worry about that. We just have to worry about what we do tonight, and that's getting two points."

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco acknowledged his team's chances of sneaking into the playoffs aren't good.

"I know the percentages are low, but all of a sudden if we get a win tonight and San Jose loses and they don't come out with a point, Saturday night's games become pretty important for both teams," Sacco said. "We'll see what happens."

These are the projected lineups for both teams Thursday:

BLUE JACKETS
R.J. Umberger - Derick Brassard - Cam Atkinson
Vinny Prospal - Mark Letestu - Rick Nash
Ryan Russell - Ryan Johansen - Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies - Darryl Boyce - Jared Boll

Jack Johnson - James Wisniewski
Nikita Nikitin - Dalton Prout
Aaron Johnson - Brett Lebda

Steve Mason
Allen York

Left wing Kristian Huselius (lower body), center Derek MacKenzie (concussion), defensemen Radek Martinek (concussion), Marc Methot (jaw), John Moore (foot) and Fedor Tyutin (hand), and goalie Curtis Sanford (leg) are out.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Mark Olver - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Peter Mueller

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Matt Hunwick - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Defenseman Ryan Wilson (torso) is out.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.24.2012 / 3:23 PM

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

Projected lineups for Canucks, Avalanche

DENVER – These are the projected lineups for a Saturday night contest between the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

CANUCKS

Mason RaymondHenrik SedinZack Kassian
David BoothRyan Kesler – Alex Burrows
Chris HigginsSamuel PahlssonJannik Hansen
Manny Malhotra – Max Lapierre – Dale Weise

Alex Edler – Kevin Bieksa
Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Aaron RomeSami Salo

Roberto Luongo
Cory Schneider

INJURIES: LW Andrew Ebbett (broken collarbone), D Keith Ballard (neck), LW Daniel Sedin (head) and LW Aaron Volpatti (shoulder) are out.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Steve Downie
Jamie McGinnPaul StastnyDavid Jones
Peter MuellerMatt DucheneMilan Hejduk
Cody McLeodJay McClementMark Olver/Chuck Kobasew

Shane O’Brien - Tyson Barrie/Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O’Byrne
Matt Hunwick - Ryan Wilson

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: D Erik Johnson (back spasms) is day-to-day.
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 5:22 PM

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

Avalanche, Flames relishing the playoff atmosphere

DENVER -- Despite the intense pressure of having to win on a nightly basis as the regular season winds down in the wild, wild Western Conference, coaches and players involved in the tightly-bunched playoff race insist they are enjoying the ride.

"It is fun," Calgary Flames left wing Alex Tanguay said this morning at the Pepsi Center, where his team will face the Colorado Avalanche tonight in a game with significant postseason implications. "As a player, as a competitor, you always want to play in games like this and in a fun atmosphere. That's going to be the case tonight."

The Flames are in 11th place with 81 points in 73 games, just two points behind the Avalanche, who sit in the eighth and final playoff position with 83 points in 74 games. Dallas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Jose are also in the mix for a playoff berth, all with 83 or 82 points, and they all play tonight.

"It sure makes for an interesting finish," Tanguay said. "It almost feels like, with the five or six teams battling, that we've already entered the playoffs, just three weeks early. It's certainly going to be fun, and hopefully we can get some big wins."

Everybody "is scoreboard watching on a nightly basis," he said.

That includes the coaches.

"It's a great time of year," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "I tell the players, this is why you play. You play to be in situations like this. Right now we're in the playoff picture, but every day it changes. This is the biggest game to date, the last game was the biggest game and the one after this one will be the biggest game."

The Flames have beaten the Avalanche nine consecutive times, four times this season with one more meeting in Calgary on March 30 after tonight. The clubs haven't met since a 3-2 Flames win in Calgary on Dec. 8 when both were hovering around .500.

"I'm not even worrying about what's transpired in the past against them," Sacco said. "I feel we're a different team right now. We're certainly playing a lot better."

The Avalanche are coming off a three-game swing through the East in which they posted a 2-0-1 record. Colorado has gone 4-0-1 in the past five games and 10-3-1 since Feb. 22. Goalie Semyon Varlamov has won four in a row, six of seven and gone 9-2 in his past 11 starts while registering a 1.53 goals-against average with two shutouts and a .949 save percentage.

"It's not like we beat them nine times in a row back-to-back-to-back-to-back," Tanguay said. "Every game is different. I don't think it will make any difference in the outcomes of the last two games of our series."

Avalanche forward Peter Mueller was recovering from post-concussion symptoms and didn't play in the previous four games against Calgary, but he knows all about the nine-game streak.

"They've had our number," he said. "Hopefully it doesn't repeat. We're concentrating on this game and we're not looking to the past. We're just trying to figure out what can be successful against this team, and hopefully we'll find it tonight."

The Flames have gone 10-4-7 since Feb. 3 and won five games in a row before stubbing their toes in the past two games, losing 3-1 in Edmonton and dropping a 2-1 shootout decision to Columbus. Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has gone 6-1-3 in his past 10 starts, is tied for third in the NHL with 33 wins, and he owns a 26-14-5 career record against the Avalanche with a 2.50 GAA and four shutouts.

"We've been in playoff mode for a long time," Tanguay said. "We kind of shot ourselves in the foot the last two games. Edmonton and Columbus are at the bottom of the pack, and we came out of those two games with one point. But there's so much parity. We just played those two teams and we didn't play our best game and we didn't win. That's the way it should be."

The Avalanche have played one more game than the Flames, but would move four points ahead of them with a regulation win if they can find a way to solve Kiprusoff and put an end to that nine-game drought.

"We have to do what we've been doing for the past couple of weeks," Mueller said. "It's going to be a dogfight tonight. We've been in playoff mode for the last two months. We're happy coming to the rink and it's an exciting time of the year. It's going to be exciting coming down to the wire."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 3:36 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

FLAMES
Alex Tanguay - Matt Stajan - Jarome Iginla
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Tom Kostopoulos
Lee Stempniak - David Moss - Blake Comeau
Greg Nemisz - Roman Horak - Guillaume Desbiens

Jay Bouwmeester - Cory Sarich
Mark Giordano - Scott Hannan
Derek Smith - Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Henrik Karlsson 

INJURIES: C Mikael Backlund (shoulder), D Chris Butler (thigh laceration), LW Michael Cammalleri (upper body) and C Blair Jones (ankle) are out.  LW Lance Bouma (upper body), D T.J. Brodie  (upper body), and RW Tim Jackman (shoulder) are day to day.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Mark Olver - Matt Duchene - Peter Mueller
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Milan Hejduk

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Matt Hunwick - Ryan Wilson

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: None.
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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 4:28 PM

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

Ducks could be without Perry against Avalanche

DENVER -- March madness is in full swing for the Colorado Avalanche and Anaheim Ducks, who meet at the Pepsi Center tonight.

Only 12 games remain on the schedule for the Avalanche, who sit 10th in the Western Conference but are tied with eighth-place Calgary and ninth-place Los Angeles with 76 points. The Ducks have 13 games to play, but they are in 12th place with 68 points and have a much tougher road ahead.

It won't help the Ducks' cause if right wing Corey Perry doesn't play. Perry, who won the Hart Trophy last season and leads the Ducks with 34 goals, hurt his right shoulder in Saturday's 2-0 loss to Dallas and is questionable for tonight. Perry didn't take part in this morning's skate.

Perry was injured when he was ridden into the boards by Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas while losing his balance. Perry attempted to return to the game but the pain was too severe.

"He's got a lot of character," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, who felt Robidas should have been assessed more than a minor penalty. "(Perry) has a lot of gumption and a lot of everything else that's positive. He just couldn't go."

If Perry is scratched, he would be replaced by Kyle Palmieri, who has been summoned from Syracuse in the American Hockey League. Palmieri, 21, had 1 goal in 11 games with the Ducks earlier this season and leads the AHL with 32 goals in 42 games.

While Perry's consecutive games played streak (272 games) is in jeopardy, Ducks center Saku Koivu will play in his 1,000th NHL game.

"Very impressive," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said of Koivu. "I think anybody that can play 1,000 games in this League, there's a lot to be said for that. You have to be durable, you have to be consistent. Even a guy like Koivu, who went through some battles during his career, to be able to come through that and be able to finish off with 1,000 games, is very impressive. Any player in this League that can hang around that long is doing something right."

Ducks right wing Teemu Selanne could reach a milestone as well. With 1,398 points, he is tied with fellow Finn and Hall of Famer Jari Kurri for 19th place on the NHL's all-time list.

"It's very special," Selanne said. "I could never imagine having as many points as Jari Kurri. It's a big honor. He was my idol growing up. His picture was on my wall and everything."

The Avalanche won two of the three previous meetings with the Ducks, taking a 4-1 decision in the most recent game, Feb. 27 at the Pepsi Center. Colorado hasn't won a season series from Anaheim since 2006-07.

"There is an eight-point cushion now with a chance to make it 10," Sacco said, referring to his team's lead over the Ducks. "If you don't (win), it could be six points and you give them hope again. I certainly believe that they believe they still have a strong chance to get in there if they put some wins together. It'll be our job tonight to discourage those chances."

Despite the pressure to win every night, Sacco said this should be a fun time for players.

"This is why you play, to have an opportunity to get into the postseason," he said. "We're right in the thick of things with a handful of other teams. I think it's easy to keep that intensity and that level up to where it should be. We're a young team, we should have good legs and we should be excited about where we're at right now, an opportunity to get into the dance. That's the biggest thing, just to get there."

The Avalanche won't know until game time if rookie left wing Gabriel Landeskog will be able to play. He was ill this morning and didn't skate.
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Posted On Monday, 03.12.2012 / 4:20 PM

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

Projected lineups for Ducks, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

DUCKS
Niklas Hagman - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry/Kyle Palmieri
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Andrew Cogliano - Devante Smith-Pelly
Matt Beleskey - Ryan O'Marra - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers 

INJURIES: G Dan Ellis (groin) is out. RW Corey Perry (shoulder) is questionable. C Nick Bonino (leg) is day to day.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog/Mike Connolly - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Peter Mueller - Mark Olver - Milan Hejduk
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Kevin Porter

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Matt Hunwick - Ryan Wilson

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: C Matt Duchene (knee) and RW Chuck Kobasew (back) are out. LW Gabriel Landeskog (ill) is a game-time decision.
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Posted On Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 5:10 PM

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

Ankle injury to sideline Duchene at least one game

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene will miss at least one game with a right ankle injury that was still being evaluated Wednesday.

Duchene was injured at 5:14 of the third period in Tuesday night's 7-1 rout of Minnesota when he was tripped by Wild right wing Nick Palmieri. Duchene's ankle was X-rayed, but coach Joe Sacco said he didn't know if a fracture had been found. He said after practice Wednesday that more tests were being administered.

"All I know is it's an ankle injury right now," Sacco said. "He'll be re-evaluated today and I'll know more tonight or tomorrow morning."

Duchene and right wing Chuck Kobasew, who has missed four games with a back injury, didn't accompany the team for Thursday night's game in Nashville, a one-game trip.

"We have plenty of bodies right now and we'll just do some line shuffling," Sacco said.

Mark Olver, who has been playing left wing on a line with Duchene and right wing Peter Mueller, will shift to center on the unit. Mueller will move to the left side and Milan Hejduk will skate at right wing.

Defenseman Ryan O'Byrne, who has missed seven games with a knee injury, took part in contact drills Wednesday and will be available Thursday.

"It's tough to keep a totally healthy lineup in this game," O'Byrne said. "Dutchie is a big part of our team and hopefully he's not out for long."

It's been a difficult season for Duchene, who suffered a left knee injury in a Dec. 29 game against Phoenix and missed 20 games. He came back Feb. 22 against Winnipeg and was used as a left wing for a few games until returning to his natural center position in Sunday's 2-0 win in Minnesota.

Duchene led the Avalanche in scoring last season when he posted career highs for goals (27), assists (40) and points (67), but he has just 13 goals and 13 assists in 48 games this year. He has 1 goal and 1 assist in nine games since returning from his knee injury.

"Every team goes through injuries, whether it's the same guy getting hurt or other guys at different times," center Paul Stastny said. "We just have to find a way to deal with it."

Stastny and teammate David Jones thought Duchene might have re-injured his knee when tripped, a play that didn't result in a penalty.

"I think he just fell awkwardly," Jones said.

Stastny said a penalty could have been called, but he didn't think it was intentional.

"Sometimes it's just a string of bad luck," he said. "You just hope he's OK. It's been a frustrating year for him. It wears on you mentally, but he'll get stronger from it. We just hope he gets back as soon as possible. If he's out for a certain amount of time, we'll pick him up. When he gets back, it'll be another good addition."

Sacco has been impressed with Olver, who is fearless when it comes to skating into the corners and in traffic despite being listed at 5-feet-10 and 170 pounds.   

"He plays the game in those areas all the time," Sacco said. "He's not a big man in stature, but he plays big. He's one of those players, when he gets on the ice, the opposition takes notice because it seems like he's always a pain in the rear end. Those are some of the type of players that we need. He's been making some plays, playing with some physicality in his game. He's been real good. I've been real happy with his play so far."

Olver missed 35 games to recover from a concussion he sustained in training camp. He had 2 goals and 7 assists in 15 games with Lake Erie in the American Hockey League and has 3 goals and 2 assists in 10 games with the Avalanche since his Feb. 16 recall.

"Being my size, either you have to be skilled or you have to be gritty," Olver, 24, said. "I don't have that much skill, so hopefully I can get a little grit and help the team out as much as I can. If I have to go to those dirty areas to help the team win, I will."

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Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 4:00 PM

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

Downie could play vs. Wild

DENVER -- It's possible right wing Steve Downie could be in the Colorado Avalanche lineup Tuesday night to play against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center.
   
Downie didn't make the trip for Sunday's 2-0 win in Minnesota after suffering a shoulder injury in Saturday's game against Pittsburgh, but he took part in Tuesday's morning skate and looked fine in shooting drills.
   
Downie was to be examined by a doctor Tuesday afternoon when a decision would be made on his availability. He has 2 goals and 5 assists in six games since his Feb. 21 acquisition from Tampa Bay. If Downie doesn't play, his place will be taken by Mike Connolly, who made his NHL debut Sunday.
   
"If he gets cleared by the team doctor, he'll be in the lineup tonight," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "If he's not cleared, then we'll go with Connolly. It's very good news."
   
Sacco also said that defenseman Ryan O'Byrne, who will miss his seventh consecutive game Tuesday with a knee injury, would take part in a full practice Wednesday and be available for Thursday’s game in Nashville.
   
"He's another player who has made good progress with his injury as well," Sacco said.
   
Matt Duchene, who was shifted from left wing to his natural position of center Sunday, will stay in the middle Tuesday night on a line with Mark Olver and Peter Mueller.
   
"I think we had 10 scoring chances last game," said Duchene, who has 1 goal, 1 assist and 18 shots in eight games since returning from a knee injury that kept him out of the lineup for 20 games. "The fact that our line didn't get (a goal) is a bit of a crime, but we want to keep bringing that level of hockey and put some in the net."
   
Jamie McGinn, playing in his third game since his Feb. 28 acquisition from San Jose, scored two first-period goals Sunday and goalie Semyon Varlamov, who will start again Tuesday night, made 30 saves for his second shutout in the past four games.
   
"(Minnesota) is frustrating to play against, for sure," Duchene said. "They try and slow it down and make it as slow as possible. Last game we pushed the pace pretty good and made them try and play at our speed. We didn't let them play that game they're so good at where they trap it up and slow it down. We have to have a similar effort tonight."
   
The Wild haven't had much success lately. Minnesota is on a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) and has been shut out in all three regulation losses. The Wild have three wins in the past 20 road games, but two of them have come against the Avalanche.
   
The Wild have won three of five games against the Avalanche this season and have gone 10-1-2 in the past 13 visits to Denver.
   
With goalie Niklas Backstrom out with a groin injury, rookie Matt Hackett will make his second start in a row. Hackett, 22, made 34 saves Sunday and owns a 2-1 record with a 0.96 goals-against average and .971 save percentage in six games.
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Posted On Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 3:24 PM

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

Probable lineups for Wild vs. Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for Tuesday night's game between the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

WILD
Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Stephane Veilleux - Matt Cullen - Devin Setoguchi
Cal Clutterbuck - Darroll Powe - Nick Palmieri
Matt Kassian - Erik Christensen - Jed Ortmeyer

Steven Kampfer - Tom Gilbert
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Kurtis Foster - Nate Prosser

Matt Hackett
Josh Harding

INJURIES: G Niklas Backstrom (groin), C Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), D Justin Falk (leg), C Mikko Koivu (upper body), LW Guillaume Latendresse (concussion), D Mike Lundin (lower body), C Carson McMillan (lower body), RW Jarod Palmer (concussion) and D Clayton Stoner (leg), are out.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie/Mike Connolly
Jamie McGinn - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Mark Olver - Matt Duchene - Peter Mueller
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Milan Hejduk

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan Wilson
Matt Hunwick - Stefan Elliott

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: RW Steve Downie (shoulder) is day to day. RW Chuck Kobasew (back) and D Ryan O'Byrne (knee) are out.
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Posted On Saturday, 03.03.2012 / 2:44 PM

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

Probable lineups for Penguins vs. Avs


DENVER – These are the projected lineups for Saturday night’s game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

PENGUINS

Chris KunitzEvgeni MalkinJames Neal
Steve SullivanJordan StaalPascal Dupuis
Matt CookeJoe VitaleRichard Park
Eric TangradiCraig AdamsArron Asham

Paul MartinBen Lovejoy
Brooks OrpikZbynek Michalek
Matt Niskanan – Deryk Engelland

Marc-Andre Fleury
Brad Thiessen

INJURIES: C Sidney Crosby (concussion), G Brent Johnson (undisclosed), RW Tyler Kennedy (ankle) and D Kris Letang (concussion) are out.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Steve Downie
Matt DuchenePaul StastnyMilan Hejduk
Jamie McGinnMark OlverDavid Jones
Cody McLeodJay McClementPeter Mueller

Shane O’Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan Wilson
Matt Hunwick - Stefan Elliott

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

INJURIES: RW Chuck Kobasew (back) and D Ryan O’Byrne (knee) are out.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 3:39 PM

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

New look for McGinn in first home game with Avs

DENVER -- Jamie McGinn will be wearing a new uniform and a new number tonight when he makes his Colorado Avalanche debut.

The 6-foot-1, 210-pound left wing, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks on Monday, has traded in the No. 64 he wore with the Sharks for parts of four seasons for No. 11, which he'll don against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday at the Pepsi Center.

"Sixty-four was a training camp number," McGinn said after Thursday morning's practice. "I never picked that number and I didn't want that number. It was just a number that they gave me and I wasn't able to switch it.  Every (previous) number I've worn has been a double-digit, so I figured I'd try this one."

McGinn will skate on the Avalanche's third line, with center Mark Olver and right wing David Jones, and he also will be used in penalty-killing situations.

"Jonesie is a proven goal scorer and Ollie is quick up the middle, so I'm excited to get going and to get to know them better," he said. "I've got to do what Colorado wanted me here for. I have to continue to do those things and I'm sure we'll jell just fine."

McGinn arrived in town Tuesday and took part in his first practice Wednesday, but still is adjusting to the mile-high altitude.

"All the guys in the locker room have warned me about it," he said. "I felt it a little bit at practice yesterday, but I felt good this morning. I'm just going to drink a lot of water and stay hydrated and get some sleep and I'll be ready to go tonight. If I can stay on top of that, I hope it will be an easy transition. But I can't use that as an excuse tonight. I have to give it my all and do what makes me successful."

McGinn, who has 12 goals and 12 assists in 61 games, is replacing Daniel Winnik on the third line and as a penalty killer. Winnik was dealt to the Sharks with T.J. Galiardi and a seventh-round pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

"We're looking for energy and for him to be a strong, physical player who can really create havoc on the forecheck and use his size and use his energy to be hard to play against, to be abrasive up front," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "The biggest thing for him is to use his feet and not get paralyzed by thinking too much; just play your game. He's got 12 goals, so certainly he's got the capability to score."

McGinn said he has gotten over the shock of the trade, but added: "Tonight will be a big game for me; reality will hit. I'm really excited to be here. It's going to be a real good opportunity for me. It's going to be a fun month with this playoff push just to make the playoffs. It's an exciting time of the year and I'm ready to tackle it."

The Avalanche have won four games in a row and are 7-2-2 in their past 11 games to pull within one point of eighth-place Dallas in the race for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Stars are idle tonight, so a Colorado win would give it sole possession of that spot, at least for a day.

The Avalanche won the first two meetings with the Blue Jackets this season, both in Columbus, and have won nine of the past 10 games between the teams.

This is the first of a two-game road trip for the Blue Jackets, who have lost three games in a row and are 30th in the NHL standings with 18 wins and 43 points.
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Posted On Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 2:50 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blue Jackets, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

BLUE JACKETS
RJ Umberger - Derick Brassard - Rick Nash
Vinny Prospal - Mark Letestu - Cam Atkinson
Ryan Russell - Derek MacKenzie - Derek Dorsett
Colton Gillies - Darryl Boyce - Ryan Johansen

Fedor Tyutin - Nikita Nikitin
Jack Johnson - James Wisniewski
John Moore - Brett Lebda

Steve Mason
Curtis Sanford

INJURIES: RW Jared Boll (foot), LW Kristian Huselius (lower body), D Radek Martinek (concussion) and D Marc Methot (jaw) are out.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Jamie McGinn - Mark Olver - David Jones
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Peter Mueller

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan Wilson
Matt Hunwick - Stefan Elliott

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: RW Chuck Kobasew (back) and D Ryan O'Byrne (knee) are out.
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Posted On Monday, 02.27.2012 / 1:48 PM

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

Projected lineups for Ducks, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Anaheim Ducks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

DUCKS
Jason Blake - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Bobby Ryan - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Andrew Cogliano - Nick Bonino - Devante Smith-Pelly
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky

Jonas Hiller
Jeff Deslauriers 

INJURIES: G Dan Ellis (groin) is out.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Peter Mueller/Kevin Porter - Mark Olver - David Jones
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan Wilson
Matt Hunwick - Stefan Elliott

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: D Ryan O'Byrne (knee) is out.
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 4:49 PM

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

Duchene cites Saints QB as help in his recovery

DENVER -- The Avalanche hope to get a boost tonight from Matt Duchene, who will play his second game since missing 20 with a knee injury. The game against the Kings will be his first home game since getting hurt in a Dec. 29 game against Phoenix at Pepsi Center.

"Right now my only focus is to help my teammates around me, to help my team make the playoffs as best I can," said Duchene, who will play left wing on a line with center Paul Stastny and right wing Milan Hejduk. "No one can do it alone, so I'm not going to try and be some sort of hero; that's not the right approach at all."

While rehabilitating his knee, Duchene began to read Drew Brees' "Coming Back Stronger," which chronicles the New Orleans Saints quarterback's comeback from a potentially career-ending shoulder injury with San Diego in 2005 that led to his arrival in New Orleans and eventual Super Bowl championship in 2010.

"I used it to help me heal my body and my mind, as well," Duchene said. "I think the mind healing was even more beneficial. I feel really refreshed physically and mentally, and I have a new outlook on things. I read it on game days before I come to the rink. He (Brees) is an amazing person and I think there are a lot of scenarios that are similar in terms of how we look at things in life and our sport. He's a guy based on faith and so am I. He works real hard and does things the right way, so it's good to know his story."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 4:47 PM

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

Downie to debut on line with O'Reilly, Landeskog

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche expect to be a more difficult team to play against now that Steve Downie has joined the lineup. The hard-nosed right wing will make his Avalanche debut tonight (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2) against the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center.

Acquired on Tuesday from Tampa Bay in exchange for defenseman Kyle Quincey, who then was sent to Detroit for a 2012 first-round draft pick and a prospect, Downie will skate on a line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and center Ryan O'Reilly.

"I want to give him a shot there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning. "He's a right-handed shot and he certainly played with some pretty good players in Tampa Bay, so I think he'll be a nice fit for O'Reilly and Landeskog with the grit that he can add on that line and with the ability to make some plays."

Downie, 24, had 12 goals, 16 assists and 121 penalty minutes in 55 games with the Lightning. He arrived in Denver around midnight, checked into his hotel an hour later and didn't get much sleep before heading to the arena for the morning skate.

"It's been crazy," he said. "It was disappointing taking off on a plane (from Tampa), but it was even more exciting landing. The drive in (from the airport), it was late last night, but it was exciting. I'm real excited to be here. I had trouble sleeping, but I'll have a good nap today and get ready to go.

"I'm excited to get things going. I'm going to bring grit and play the body as much as I can. I can chip in in the offensive part of the game, too."

Downie said the trade didn't come as a complete surprise, even though the Lightning is only five points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Avalanche are four points behind the eighth-place Kings in the West. The Kings, who are 1-3-2 in their past six games, didn't skate this morning after squandering 3-0 and 4-2 leads Tuesday in a 5-4 shootout loss to Phoenix.

"I knew they were doing stuff over there, trying to get draft picks in the building," Downie said of the Lightning. "So you know about (a possible trade), but you don't. It was tough leaving there. I was there for a long time, but it's real exciting to be here and to see all these guys. They're fast and they have a lot of skill. They have some really skilled guys and it's going to be fun to watch them and to play with them."

Downie said the chance to skate with Landeskog and O'Reilly is a "good opportunity," add added, "Two great players. I'm going to complement them as much as I can, give them the puck and go to the net."
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Posted On Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 3:22 PM

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

Projected lineups for Kings, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Los Angeles Kings and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

KINGS
Jordan Nolan - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dwight King - Mike Richards - Dustin Brown
Kyle Clifford - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Dustin Penner - Jarret Stoll - Brad Richardson

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Jack Johnson
Alec Martinez - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier 

INJURIES: LW Simon Gagne (concussion) and LW Scott Parse (hip) are out.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Steve Downie
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - David Jones
Cody McLeod - Mark Olver - Chuck Kobasew

Ryan Wilson - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Stefan Elliott

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: LW TJ Galiardi (shoulder) and RW Peter Mueller (torso) are out.
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 5:35 PM

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

Sacco expects high-tempo game between Avs, Canes

DENVER -- Two teams that have been hard-pressed to score goals face off tonight when the Colorado Avalanche and Carolina Hurricanes meet at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche broke through in a big way Tuesday with a 5-2 win against Chicago, but have scored two goals or fewer in 10 of their past 13 games and are averaging 2.4 goals per game overall.

"We had been struggling to score goals on a consistent basis, but we always talk about the process," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning following his team's optional skate. "When you do good things during the course of the game -- if you do them consistently -- sooner or later the chances that you get are going to go in. That finally happened against Chicago. I thought we played a pretty complete game."

The Hurricanes, who are averaging 2.5 goals per game, have been held to two goals or fewer in seven of their past nine contests but have managed to post a 4-2-3 record in that stretch because of solid goaltending by Cam Ward and efficient penalty-killing.

But Sacco expects a high-paced game tonight, similar to the one his team played against the Blackhawks when the clubs combined for 60 shots and plenty of scoring chances.

"They're a fast team, they're a young team, and they play with energy," Sacco said of the Hurricanes. "It looks like they try to play a very aggressive game where they're chipping pucks in and trying to chase pucks down. It should make for a good game with a lot of pace and a lot of tempo, two young teams that like to push the pace and like to skate."

While the Avalanche remain in the Western Conference playoff hunt with 57 points -- three points behind eighth-place Phoenix -- the Hurricanes have 50 points and are a dozen points behind eighth-place Toronto in the East despite posting a 6-2-3 record since Jan. 12. Carolina has gone 12-12-6 since Kirk Muller replaced Paul Maurice as head coach on Nov. 28.

"They found themselves behind the eight-ball at the start of the year, but they're definitely playing much better now," Sacco said. "You've got two teams looking for points, so it should be a good game."

The Hurricanes will be bucking history tonight. The franchise has gone 0-7-2 in Denver since Feb. 9, 1996, when the Hartford Whalers defeated the Avalanche 3-2 in overtime at since-razed McNichols Sports Arena. It was the first season after the Quebec Nordiques moved to Colorado and were renamed the Avalanche.

Avalanche goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was a first-round pick of the Whalers in 1995, will start against the Hurricanes, who are making their first appearance in Denver since Oct. 23, 2009. Giguere on Tuesday ended a personal four-game winless streak (0-3-1) in which he permitted a total of six goals but received little in the way of offensive support.

"If you look at the previous games, our problem was scoring goals," center Ryan O'Reilly said. "We had a good backcheck (against Chicago) with all the guys coming back and it created a lot of two-on-ones and odd-man rushes for us, and I think that's one reason why we did get our offense going. Our scoring definitely gained a little confidence from that. We're going to need that down the stretch. Having a game like that, even without any power plays, was a big thing for us and something to build on."

Sacco reunited struggling left wing David Jones with center Paul Stastny and right wing Milan Hejduk, and the line combined for 2 goals and 4 assists, with Jones collecting 2 goals and 1 assist.

"We played a lot together last year and we had some success," said Jones, who has 12 goals in 45 games after scoring a career-high 27 goals last season. "Those guys make it so easy to play with them. They're real good with the puck and they draw guys to them. They'll find you anywhere on the ice, so it's just a matter of being ready and being ready to shoot."
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 3:40 PM

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

Projected lineups for Hurricanes, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

HURRICANES
Jiri Tlusty - Eric Staal - Tuomo Ruutu
Jeff Skinner - Jussi Jokinen - Chad LaRose
Andreas Nodl - Brandon Sutter - Patrick Dwyer
Drayson Bowman - Tim Brent - Anthony Stewart

Tim Gleason - Bryan Allen
Jay Harrison - Justin Faulk
Jaroslav Spacek - Jamie McBain

Cam Ward
Justin Peters

INJURIES: G Brian Boucher (lower body) and D Joni Pitkanen (concussion) are out.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Peter Mueller
David Jones - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Jay McClement - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Chuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey - Erik Johnson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Tyson Barrie

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

INJURIES: LW Matt Duchene (knee) is out.
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Posted On Tuesday, 02.07.2012 / 3:40 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blackhawks, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Chicago Blackhawks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

BLACKHAWKS

Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Patrick Sharp - Brendan Morrison - Marian Hossa
Marcus Kruger - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Bryan Bickell - Jamal Mayers - Michael Frolik

Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Steve Montador - Sean O'Donnell

Ray Emery
Corey Crawford

Injuries: RW Andrew Brunette (upper body) is day to day. Daniel Carcillo (knee) is out.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Peter Mueller
David Jones - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Jay McClement - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Chuck Kobasew

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Kyle Quincey -- Tyson Barrie
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: LW Matt Duchene (knee) is out.
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 4:36 PM

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

Avs get another crack at beating division foe

DENVER -- If the Colorado Avalanche miss the playoffs for the second year in a row, coaches and players will have to look no further than at an abysmal record against Northwest Division opponents.

The Avalanche have lost 11 of 13 games against teams in the division this season, including two of three meetings with the Minnesota Wild, tonight's opponent at the Pepsi Center.

"It would be nice to know where we'd be if we had a better record in our division," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning.

The Pepsi Center has been a friendly place for the Wild, who broke an 11-game winless streak here with a 3-2 victory on Jan. 24 and have posted a 9-1-2 record in their past dozen visits.

"We have to prepare ourselves better," said Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who will start in goal for the Avalanche. "I think most of those losses that we had, we didn't play for 60 minutes. We didn't have a good start and we shot ourselves in the foot. The last game against Minnesota is a prime example. They outworked us for most of the game and you're not going to win any games in this League if you don't work hard. We should be ready and excited about these games."

The Avalanche have lost three games in a row (all by 3-2 scores) to fall into 10th place in the Western Conference, one point behind an eighth-place Wild team that has played two fewer games. Colorado and ninth-place Dallas each have 54 points, but the Stars have played three fewer games.

"We have to start winning some games," Giguere said. "We can't just keep losing and think there are 28 or 27 more games. We have to put some points in the bank, because those games that you are losing now are going to end up hurting you in the end."

After playing nine of 12 games on the road in January, the Avalanche will split 12 games in February between home and the road. Tonight's game is the first of a four-game homestand.

"We have to try and capture some of the momentum that we've lost over the last couple of games," said Sacco, who needs one win for 100 in his NHL coaching career, all with Colorado. "I like the fact that we have a four-game homestand. It's been a long time since we've had any sort of homestand. You have to take care of business at home, and that's what we'll be looking to do."

The Wild, meantime, is looking to put Tuesday's stunning 5-4 loss to Nashville behind it. The Predators scored four goals in the final 10 1/2 minutes to wipe out a 4-1 deficit.

"We've all been through games like that, in this League or other leagues," said Wild left wing Dany Heatley, who has 3 goals and 3 assists in a three-game point-scoring streak. "We're in too tight of a race to let that linger and bother us."

Wild coach Mike Yeo has already turned the page, pointing out his team has won two of the past three games and played well in all three, with the exception of the last 10 minutes against Nashville.

"If we want to dwell on anything, it should be the fact that we should have won the game," he said.

Sacco said he didn't feel the need to discuss the Wild's meltdown with his players, since the Avalanche are coming off a poor performance in Tuesday's 3-2 loss in Edmonton.

"We're in the same boat," he said. "The Edmonton game was a game that we obviously wanted to win, just like Minnesota wanted to beat Nashville. I know the circumstances might be a little bit different, but we should have as much of a sour taste in our mouth as they should. We have to make sure we're ready to bring our 'A' game tonight."

The Wild has experienced plenty of success in Denver largely because of goalie Niklas Backstrom. He's gone 8-2-1 at the Pepsi Center with two shutouts, a 2.12 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. Backstrom is 5-1-1 in the past seven games, permitting one goal or fewer in five of them.

"We need to get out of this skid here and make sure we start putting points in the bank," said Avalanche defenseman and Minnesota native Erik Johnson. "If you're going to be successful, you have to take care of your divisional games. We haven't done that to date, and we've talked about it a lot and this is one of those games tonight."
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Posted On Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 3:14 PM

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

Projected lineups for Wild, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

WILD
Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Devin Setoguchi
Darroll Powe - Warren Peters - Carson McMillan
Matt Kassian - Chad Rau - Jed Ortmeyer

Nick Schultz - Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk - Nate Prosser
Greg Zanon - Clayton Stoner

Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding

Injuries: RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), C Mikko Koivu (shoulder), LW Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) and RW Jarod Palmer (concussion) are out.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'ReillyMilan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Paul Stastny - Peter Mueller
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Kevin Porter

Erik Johnson - Stefan Elliott
Kyle Quincey - Ryan Wilson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: LW Matt Duchene (knee) is out.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 4:46 PM

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

Critical two points at stake for Avalanche, Wild

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild are running neck-and-neck in a race for the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference heading into tonight's meeting at the Pepsi Center.

The teams are separated by one point -- the Avalanche have 54 points in 50 games, the Wild 53 points in 48 games -- and both are hoping to start building some momentum heading into the NHL All-Star break before the season's stretch run.

A couple of veterans will be in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere making his fourth consecutive start for the Avalanche and Niklas Backstrom getting the nod for the Wild. Backstrom has played just once in Minnesota's previous six games, but he missed two of those because of illness.

"They're all big games for us, but obviously we want to go into the break with a nice feeling, kind of how we did in the Christmas break a few weeks ago," Giguere said this morning.

The Avalanche have gone 13-6-1 in the past 20 games and 10-2-0 in the past 12 on home ice, but are coming off a tough 3-2 loss in Anaheim on Sunday when they outshot the Ducks 45-18.

The Avalanche and Wild split two earlier meetings this season, both at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Backstrom outdueled Giguere 1-0 on Nov. 17 and Giguere returned the favor in a 4-2 win on Dec. 26.

The Wild are winless in their past 11 road games (0-9-2), one short of the franchise record set in 2003-04, but Minnesota has gone 8-1-2 in the past 11 games at the Pepsi Center.

"They're a tough team," said Avalanche right wing Peter Mueller, who is from Bloomington, Minn. "We know what's at stake; these two points are huge. It was a tough game in Anaheim, but we're focusing on playing a full 60 here and trying to get the two points. We've got to be ready right from the start."

Neither team has had a great deal of success against Northwest Division opponents, with the Wild posting a 7-8-1 record and the Avalanche a 2-9-0 mark.

"Everybody looks at the standings, everyone's human and you're always checking to see where you are, but at the end of the day there's a certain number that you have to hit as far as reaching points," said Avalanche coach Joe Sacco, who needs one win for 100 in his NHL career, all with Colorado. "What that number is, everyone can argue. It's such a tough conference and these games are all so big and so important. You try to focus on smaller increments. We work on five-game segments. It helps us keep our focus on the smaller picture, not the big picture. Tonight's the start of a new segment."

Defenseman Ryan Wilson will return to the Avalanche lineup after missing two games with a groin injury. He replaces rookie Stefan Elliott, who has 3 assists in his past 11 games.

Except for Backstrom, the Wild is going with the same lineup they used in Saturday's 5-2 win over Dallas. Josh Harding stopped 23 shots against the Stars to end the Wild's four-game winless streak.
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 3:04 PM

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

Potential lineups for Wild, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

WILD
Dany Heatley - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Devin Setoguchi
Darroll Powe - Warren Peters - Carson McMillan
Matt Kassian - Chad Rau - Jed Ortmeyer

Nick Schultz - Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk - Nate Prosser
Greg Zanon - Clayton Stoner

Niklas Backstrom will start in goal, with Josh Harding the backup.

Injuries: RW Pierre-Marc Bouchard (concussion), C Mikko Koivu (shoulder), LW Guillaume Latendresse (concussion) and RW Jarod Palmer (concussion) are out.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
TJ Galiardi - Paul Stastny - Peter Mueller
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - David Jones
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Chuck Kobasew

Erik Johnson - Shane O'Brien
Kyle Quincey - Ryan Wilson
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal, with Semyon Varlamov the backup.

Injuries: LW Matt Duchene (knee) is out.
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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 5:40 PM

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

Pepsi Center homecomings for Mueller, Fleischmann

DENVER -- It will be a homecoming of sorts for Peter Mueller and Tomas Fleischmann tonight when the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers meet at the Pepsi Center.

Mueller will play his first home game since opening night after he missed 41 consecutive games to recover from concussion-like symptoms. The 23-year-old right wing, who didn't play at all last season after suffering two concussions within a five-month period, returned to the Avalanche lineup last Thursday in Nashville and played in all three games of the road trip.

Fleischmann signed a four-year, $18 million contract with the Panthers as an unrestricted free agent on July 1 after collecting 8 goals and 13 assists in 22 games with the Avalanche last season. Acquired from Washington in a Nov. 30, 2010 trade in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan, Fleischmann was a valuable offensive weapon but had to sit out the final 36 games after being diagnosed with blood clots in his lungs.

Fleischmann, 27, was put on medication and regained his health, and he's tied with Stephen Weiss for second in scoring on the Panthers with 15 goals and 19 assists in 44 games.

"He's a great kid and I enjoyed working with him last year," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said this morning. "He had some good production when he was with us; he had some good games when he was with us. Unfortunately, he got sidetracked by the injury there. Obviously, we went in a different direction in the offseason, but I'm glad to see that he's doing very well. I'm happy for him."

Sacco also has been pleased with the play of Mueller, who is still seeking his first point but had 11 shots on the three-game trip. He'll skate on a line with left wing TJ Galiardi and center Paul Stastny tonight.

"Good progression every game," Sacco said. "He feels more comfortable out there, and you can see that his energy level is increasing every time he steps on the ice. He's generated some scoring chances for himself and for his linemates. I think he's headed in the right direction. I know that he wants to get (a goal), and maybe feel a little better about himself. But I really like the way he's played, the way he's moving his feet. He's involved in the game physically, had three or four hits last game (Monday against Phoenix), so he's not shying away from the physical side of it.

"He's a good kid and he's gone through a long battle over the last couple of years. The guys in the room certainly are pushing for him and we're pushing for him and pulling for him and I'm hoping that he stays healthy and contributes to our team."

Mueller is excited to play before the home fans and is hopeful of returning to the form he displayed in 2009-10 when he had 9 goals and 11 assists in 15 games following his March 10, 2010 acquisition with Kevin Porter from Phoenix in exchange for Wojtek Wolski.

"I feel great. I definitely feel better than I did in the beginning of the year (when he played in the first three games)," Mueller said. "It seems like every game I've been getting more comfortable, and my ice time has been getting increased, which is nice. I'm still looking for that first (goal), but it's going to come sooner or later."

Tonight's game will be Mueller's first at the Pepsi Center since Oct. 8, when he had three shots in the Avalanche's 3-0 loss to Detroit.

"It's been quite some time," said Mueller, who is wearing a helmet with special padding and a tinted visor because bright arena lights can be difficult for concussion victims to handle. "I'm excited. It's going to be good to be in front of the home crowd and to hear the noise and just to be on the home ice. It's still a little weird waking up and knowing that you're going to play. It's a good feeling. I'm excited to be coming to the rink and being a part of the everyday situation."

Surgery for Jovo:
The Panthers announced today that defenseman Ed Jovanovski will undergo hand surgery on Thursday at Doctors Hospital in Coral Gables, Fla., and will be sidelined indefinitely. Jovanovski, 35, was injured in a first-period fight with Boston's Daniel Paille on Monday. Keaton Ellerby, who has 2 assists in 15 games, is expected to take Jovanovski's place against the Avalanche.

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Posted On Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 4:16 PM

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

Projected lineups for Panthers, Avs

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

PANTHERS
Tomas Fleischmann - Stephen Weiss - Kris Versteeg
Mikael Samuelsson - Marcel Goc - Tomas Kopecky
Shawn Matthias - John Madden - Michal Repik
Krys Barch - Mike Santorelli - Matt Bradley

Jason Garrison - Brian Campbell
Keaton Ellerby - Erik Gudbranson
Dmitry Kulikov - Mike Weaver

Jose Theodore will start in goal with Scott Clemmensen the backup.

The Panthers will be without defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who had hand surgery today, for up to two months. Left wing Marco Sturm (concussion) als is out.  Left wing Sean Bergenheim (groin), right wing Jack Skille (shoulder) and left wing Scottie Upshall (hip) are day to day.

AVALANCHE
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
T.J. Galiardi - Paul Stastny - Peter Mueller
Chuck Kobasew - Jay McClement - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - David Jones

Ryan Wilson - Erik Johnson
Kyle Quincey - Stefan Elliott
Shane O'Brien - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal, with Semyon Varlamov the backup.

The Avs are without left wing Matt Duchene (knee) and defenseman Jan Hejda (groin).
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 5:00 PM

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

Avs lose Johnson, O'Brien, but get Wilson back

DENVER -- Just when it looked like the Colorado Avalanche were starting to get healthy, their defense corps has taken a double hit with the losses of Erik Johnson to a hand injury and Shane O'Brien to a knee injury.

Neither will play tonight when the Avalanche faces the Nashville Predators at the Pepsi Center in the opener of a home-and-home series that resumes Thursday in Music City.

The good news for the Avalanche is that defenseman Ryan Wilson will play for the first time since he suffered a concussion in a Dec. 6 game in Vancouver. The 6-foot-1, 207-pound Wilson was arguably the team's best defenseman when he was injured on a hit from behind by Maxim Lapierre that didn't result in a penalty or supplemental discipline.

"It's a great feeling," Wilson said this morning. "Coming to the rink all those days knowing that you're not playing, it gets to you. You're just waiting for this one moment to get back in the lineup. I felt good on the ice this morning and hopefully I can carry it into the game."

Wilson is a big hitter, but he's only been assessed 24 penalty minutes in 28 games. He's been a solid two-way defenseman with 1 goal, 13 assists and a plus-5 rating.

"He was playing physical and he was chipping in offensively, which is a bonus," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "Things were just going well for him. I think it all stems from him being involved in the game physically. I think he's certainly established a reputation that when he's on the ice to have your head up. That's what we look for from Ryan, to make sure that he keeps the opposition on their toes and doing it with discipline and not crossing the line. He's been real good at judging that."

Wilson said he isn’t nervous about getting hit again. He suffered a facial cut and blurred vision that lasted a couple of days after his face slammed into the glass on Lapierre's hit.

"No, it happens," he said. "You play so many games and you're going to take a couple hits here and there. It's something that happened and I'm not thinking about it. I'm just going to go out there and play. I expect to get hit."

The Avalanche went 10-5 without Wilson and have won nine of the past 11 games, with both losses coming in the second game of a back-to-back situation.

"It was awesome," Wilson said. "It was great to watch the guys go out there and play so well. You want to get back in the lineup and help the team out, but when they're playing that good you feel like they might not need you at the time. It was good to get my rest and now hopefully I can help us continue."

Johnson and O'Brien were injured in Saturday's 4-0 loss in St. Louis. Johnson skated this morning and will accompany the team for Thursday's game in Nashville, but O'Brien will be sidelined for an indefinite period. Matt Hunwick, a healthy scratch the previous five games, will suit up tonight.

"It's unfortunate that we lost two guys that have been contributing, but that's why we have eight defensemen," Sacco said.

The Predators have had the Avalanche's number lately. They swept the four-game series last season by a combined score of 17-8 and have won five consecutive meetings between the teams.

Nashville is on a 10-4 roll and is seventh in the tightly-packed Western Conference with a 22-15-4 record and 48 points. Colorado is 10th with a 23-19-1 record and 47 points.

"They're a hard-working team and they skate well," Avalanche captain Milan Hejduk said. "Every year it seems like they make the playoffs. It's a tough team to play against. If we want to make the playoffs, we have to do well against them."

The Avalanche will only play three home games in January after playing 19 at the Pepsi Center in November and December.

"Maybe it's a little better than having a stretch of six or seven games in a row at home," Hejduk said. "When they're spread out, maybe you can get ready for it more because it's so unusual this month to play at home. We'll see."
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Posted On Tuesday, 01.10.2012 / 4:14 PM

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

Projected lineups for Predators, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

PREDATORS
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Gabriel Bourque - Nick Spaling - Jordin Tootoo
Matt Halischuk - Craig Smith - Jerred Smithson

Ryan Suter - Shea Weber
Francis Bouillon - Ryan Ellis
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein

Pekka Rinne
Anders Lindback

AVALANCHE

TJ Galiardi - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Chuck Kobasew - Jay McClement - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Kevin Porter

Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Ryan Wilson - Matt Hunwick
Kyle Quincey - Stefan Elliott

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Injuries: LW Matt Duchene (knee), D Erik Johnson (hand), LW Peter Mueller (head) and D Shane O'Brien (knee) are out.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 4:46 PM

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

Varlamov starts, Quincey, Kobasew back for Colorado

DENVER -- Defenseman Kyle Quincey, left wing Chuck Kobasew and goalie Semyon Varlamov will be back in the Colorado Avalanche lineup for tonight's game against the Phoenix Coyotes at the Pepsi Center.

Quincey, the Avalanche's top-scoring defenseman with 3 goals and 14 assists in 32 games, was a healthy scratch for the previous four games after missing two with a groin injury. Kobasew has missed eight games with a head injury and Varlamov's only appearance in the previous six games came in Monday’s 4-2 win in Minnesota.

Quincey was replaced by Matt Hunwick after getting hurt Dec. 15 in San Jose and remained out of the lineup because coach Joe Sacco didn't want to make changes during a five-game winning streak that ended Tuesday with a 4-1 loss to Winnipeg.

Quincey will replace Hunwick as rookie Stefan Elliott's partner, and Kobasew will replace rookie Brad Malone on the third line with Jay McClement and TJ Galiardi.

"It was extremely frustrating (not to play), but I tried to look at the positives," Quincey said after this morning's skate. "It was a good time to get your legs back and fresh. It's almost at the halfway point (of the season) and I feel like I'm starting over again. It was like a little mini-training camp for me. I got back in the gym and had 10 great workouts. I'm fresh. I feel like it's my first game of the year again. It's a long season, a grind, and I guess I was fortunate to have a little vacation there."

Quincey didn't feel quite the same as last season when he missed the final 55 games to recover from a shoulder injury that required surgery. The Avalanche only won six of the last 36 games and finished 29th in the NHL standings.

"I can go back to last year and how (bad) the feeling was," he said. "The biggest thing was not being able to help the team when they needed it the most. I don't want to say it seemed like they didn't need me (this time), but we were winning and everything was good around here. The boys were happy and it wasn't anything like last year, when it was pretty depressing."

The Avalanche won eight home games in a row before Tuesday's loss and have won five of their past six games overall and six of eight to climb back into the Western Conference playoff race.

Tonight's game is especially important because the Avalanche open a four-game road trip on New Year's Eve in Anaheim and will play nine of 12 games in January on the road.

"We need to regroup," Sacco said. "We talked about a month ago about our team improving our home record, and certainly that's something that we did. This is a big game against a conference opponent. A team that plays a style that Phoenix does, you want to make sure you start the game on time and it's always nice to get a lead and give yourself a better chance to win. They play a very structured game and we have to be diligent with the puck and when we get our opportunities to make sure we get second and third efforts on the net."

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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 4:44 PM

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

Banged-up Coyotes try to continue success in Denver

DENVER -- The Phoenix Coyotes didn't skate this morning after playing Wednesday night at home, where they lost 2-1 in overtime to Boston. Like their opponents tonight, the Colorado Avalanche, the Coyotes have lost a number of players to injuries, including goalie Mike Smith (groin) and center Martin Hanzal (head).

The Coyotes are in 11th place in the West with 40 points, one point behind eighth-place Dallas. The Avalanche are in 12th place with 39 points.

The Coyotes have won the last three meetings with the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center by the combined score of 11-3. Phoenix defeated Colorado 4-1 on Nov. 2.

Jason LaBarbera has started four consecutive games in goal for the Coyotes, and made 27 saves against the Bruins on Wednesday. He's gone 2-5 against Colorado in eight previous appearances with a shutout, a 3.23 goals-against average and .893 save percentage.

With Smith out, the Coyotes recalled Curtis McElhinney on Monday from the Portland Pirates in the American Hockey League. McElhinney owns a 2-1 career record against the Avalanche with one shutout, a 2.67 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

A four-year NHL veteran, McElhinney played four years at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. He played for Calgary, Anaheim and Ottawa before signing with Phoenix as a free agent on July 4. McElhinney went 9-11 with Portland this season with a 2.95 average and .910 save percentage.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 4:42 PM

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

Wilson nearing return for Avalanche

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson will miss his 11th consecutive game since getting hit from behind by Vancouver's Maxim Lapierre in a Dec. 6 game, but he skated for the third day in a row and is hopeful of playing next week. Wilson went face first into the glass, suffered a cut lip and blurred vision that lasted for a couple of days.

The Avalanche weren't pleased that Lapierre wasn't penalized or suspended.

"Any time you get your head run like that, you have to get a rest and let your brain heal," Wilson said. "It would have been nice for the team to get a power play there, but I guess the refs thought it wasn't that bad of a hit. Maybe they didn’t see my head go right into the glass, but I felt it pretty good."
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Posted On Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 3:24 PM

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

Projected lineups for Coyotes, Avalanche

These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Phoenix Coyotes and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

COYOTES
Ray Whitney - Daymond Langkow - Shane Doan
Lauri Korpikoski - Andy Miele - Radim Vrbata
Raffi Torres - Cal O'Reilly - Mikkel Boedker
Taylor Pyatt - Kyle Chipchura - Paul Bissonnette

Keith Yandle - Derek Morris
Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michal Rozsival
Rostislav Klesla - David Schlemko

Curtis McElhinney
Jason LaBarbera

Injuries: C Boyd Gordon (lower body), C Martin Hanzal (head) and G Mike Smith (groin) are out. D Adrian Aucoin (lower body) is day to day.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Daniel Winnik
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Chuck Kobasew - Jay McClement - TJ Galiardi
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Kevin Porter

Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Kyle Quincey - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Injuries: RW David Jones (groin), LW Peter Mueller (head), C Mark Olver (head) and D Ryan Wilson (head) are out.

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 4:06 PM

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

Avalanche look to keep up momentum at home

DENVER -- While the Colorado Avalanche are looking to stay hot on home ice, the Winnipeg Jets will be trying to get untracked on the road when the teams meet tonight at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have reeled off an eight-game winning streak at home and have won five in a row overall to climb two games above the .500 mark (19-17-1) and within one point of eighth place in the Western Conference.

The Jets are 7-3-1 in their past 10 games, but just 1-4-2 in the past seven games away from the MTS Centre. Tonight's game will be just their second on the road in December, the previous one a 7-1 loss in Detroit on Dec. 10.

The Avalanche will be playing the second game of a back-to-back situation, having defeated Minnesota 4-2 on Monday to snap a road winless streak that had reached nine games (0-8-1). It was a particularly satisfying win because the Avalanche traveled early Monday morning, skipped the morning skate and didn't arrive at the team hotel until five hours before the opening faceoff.

But the early start enabled the Avalanche to leave Minnesota earlier than usual, and most players were home by 10:30 p.m. MST.

"As a coach, you're always worried about those type of games, coming off a two-game break (for Christmas) and not having a morning skate to get yourself going," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after this morning's skate. "I thought the players responded quite well. We killed off nine minutes of penalties in the first period and that was quite a bit of a challenge because we used some of those guys over and over, and we had some guys that weren't getting out there as much as they should have been. But we stood strong and our special teams were really good last night and helped us stay in the game in the first period."

The Avalanche were awaiting word on whether left wing Cody McLeod would be suspended for his hit from behind against the Wild's Jared Spurgeon at 5:22 of the first period. McLeod was assessed a major penalty and automatic game misconduct.

Wild coach Mike Yeo told reporters today that Spurgeon suffered a lower-body injury and was scheduled to see a doctor. Spurgeon will miss at least one game, Wednesday in Nashville.

The Jets, meantime, were getting adjusted to the mile-high altitude in Denver for what will be their only visit this season.

"If you get stuck in long shifts, you could really have a hard time," Jets coach Claude Noel said. "You have to go 30 and 40-second shifts and get the (line) change because if you get stuck your recovery is really tough. You really hit the wall. It's an advantage to them, because they're used to it."

The Jets also haven't been used to being on the road, having played 11 of their past 12 games at home. Overall, the Jets have gone 4-8-4 in road games.

"We have to start winning some games on the road," Noel said. "If you're going to be a playoff-contending team, which we hope to be, you have to start getting to .500 on the road. That's got to be our next goal."

The Jets are just two points out of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 3:10 PM

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

Projected lineups for Jets, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

JETS
Evander Kane - Alex Burmistrov - Blake Wheeler
Andrew Ladd - Nik Antropov - Kyle Wellwood
Tanner Glass - Jim Slater - Antti Miettinen
Eric Fehr - Tim Stapleton - Chris Thorburn

Dustin Byfuglien - Toby Enstrom
Mark Stuart - Zach Bogosian
Ron Hainsey - Johnny Oduya

Chris Mason
Ondrej Pavelec

Injuries: D Randy Jones (upper body), C Bryan Little (foot) and D Derek Meech (knee) are out.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Daniel Winnik
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - TJ Galiardi
Cody McLeod - David Van Der Gulik - Kevin Porter

Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne
Shane O'Brien - Erik Johnson
Matt Hunwick - Stefan Elliott

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: RW David Jones (groin), RW Chuck Kobasew (head), LW Peter Mueller (head), C Mark Olver (head) and D Ryan Wilson (head) are out.

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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 4:28 PM

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

Projected lineups for Lightning, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

LIGHTNING
Steve Downie - Steven Stamkos - Ryan Malone
Dominic Moore - Vincent Lecavalier - Martin St. Louis
Tom Pyatt - Blair Jones - Teddy Purcell
Adam Hall - Dana Tyrell - James Wyman

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Pavel Kubina - Brett Clark
Evan Oberg - Marc-Andre Bergeron

Mathieu Garon
Dwayne Roloson

Injuries: D Matt Gilroy (lower body), D Mattias Ohlund (both knees), RW Ryan Shannon (lower body) and C Nate Thompson (lower body) are out.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Daniel Winnik
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - TJ Galiardi
David Van Der Gulik - Kevin Porter - Cody McLeod

Jan Hejda - Shane O'Brien
Stefan Elliott - Erik Johnson
Matt Hunwick/Kyle Quincey - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: RW David Jones (groin), RW Chuck Kobasew (head), LW Peter Mueller (head), C Mark Olver (head) and D Ryan Wilson (head) are out.
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Posted On Thursday, 12.22.2011 / 4:38 PM

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

Banged-up Coyotes try to continue success in Denver

DENVER -- The Phoenix Coyotes didn't skate this morning after playing Wednesday night at home, where they lost 2-1 in overtime to Boston. Like their opponents tonight, the Colorado Avalanche, the Coyotes have lost a number of players to injuries, including goalie Mike Smith (groin) and center Martin Hanzal (head).

The Coyotes are in 11th place in the West with 40 points, one point behind eighth-place Dallas. The Avalanche are in 12th place with 39 points.

The Coyotes have won the last three meetings with the Avalanche at the Pepsi Center by the combined score of 11-3. Phoenix defeated Colorado 4-1 on Nov. 2.

Jason LaBarbera has started four consecutive games in goal for the Coyotes, and he made 27 saves against the Bruins on Wednesday. He's gone 2-5 against Colorado in eight previous appearances with a shutout, a 3.23 goals-against average and .893 save percentage.

With Smith out, the Coyotes recalled Curtis McElhinney on Monday from the Portland Pirates in the American Hockey League. McElhinney owns a 2-1 career record against the Avalanche with one shutout, a 2.67 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

A four-year NHL veteran, McElhinney played four years at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. He played for Calgary, Anaheim and Ottawa before signing with Phoenix as a free agent on July 4. McElhinney went 9-11 with Portland this season with a 2.95 average and .910 save percentage.
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Posted On Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 3:40 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blues, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

BLUES

Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
David Perron - Patrik Berglund - Chris Stewart
Matt D'Agostini - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Chris Porter - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Kris Russell - Roman Polak

Brian Elliott
Jaroslav Halak

Injuries: RW B.J. Crombeen (shoulder), LW Andy McDonald (concussion), D Kent Huskins (ankle) and C Vladimir Sobotka (ankle) are out.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Daniel Winnik
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - TJ Galiardi
David Van Der Gulik - Kevin Porter - Cody McLeod

Jan Hejda - Shane O'Brien
Stefan Elliott - Erik Johnson
Matt Hunwick - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: RW David Jones (groin), RW Chuck Kobasew (head), LW Peter Mueller (head), C Mark Olver (head), D Ryan Wilson (head) and RW Brandon Yip (groin) are out.
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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 4:08 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flyers, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Danny Briere - Jaromir Jagr
Tom Sestito - Matt Read - Wayne Simmonds
James van Riemsdyk - Maxime Talbot - Jakub Voracek
Harry Zolnierczyk - Ben Holmstrom - Zac Rinaldo

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Walker - Matt Carle
Marc-Andre Bourdon - Andrej Meszaros

Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky

Injuries: C Sean Couturier (head), RW Claude Giroux (concussion), C Brayden Schenn (concussion), D Chris Pronger (concussion), D Erik Gustafsson (wrist) are out.

AVALANCHE

Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Daniel Winnik
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - TJ Galiardi
Kevin Porter - Evan Brophey - Cody McLeod

Jan Hejda - Shane O'Brien
Stefan Elliott - Erik Johnson
Matt Hunwick - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: RW David Jones (groin), RW Chuck Kobasew (head), LW Peter Mueller (head), C Mark Olver (head), D Kyle Quincey (groin), D Ryan Wilson (head) and RW Brandon Yip (groin) are out.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 5:08 PM

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

Varlamov won't face former team because of back injury

DENVER – Semyon Varlamov won’t face his former Washington Capitals teammates Saturday night because of what Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said is a “minor back injury,” so Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal at Pepsi Center.
   
“It happened last game against San Jose (on Thursday),” Sacco said after the pregame skate. “It flared up during the game.”
   
Varlamov, who allowed three third-period goals in the Avalanche’s 5-4 loss to the Sharks, will dress as the backup.
   
The 23-year-old Russian had dinner Friday night with some former teammates and said he is “a little bit” disappointed not to get the starting nod.

“I will be backup today and I'm always ready to go on ice and play my game,” he said.
   
The Avalanche acquired Varlamov’s rights from Washington on July 1 in exchange for a first-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in either 2012 or 2013, after which he signed a three-year, $8.5 million contract.
   
Varlamov has shown flashes of brilliance in an otherwise inconsistent season, posting a 10-13-1 record with a 3.14 goals-against average and .896 save percentage.
   
“I’m sure he would love to play against the Caps,” Giguere said. “But you have to take the season a game at a time. As a coaching staff, you don't really care much who you're playing and what that involves. It's the nature of the business sometimes."
   
Giguere will make his ninth start of the season, his second in Colorado’s past 12 games. He has a 4-4 record with a 1.95 goals-against average and .923 save percentage this year. Giguere owns a 3-4-1 career record against Washington with a 2.29 average, but he’s 0-3 with a 3.90 average in his past three starts against them.
   
Capitals star left wing Alex Ovechkin has scored seven goals against Giguere in five games, while Mike Knuble has six goals in seven games and Alexander Semin three goals in two games.
   
“Good individual skill on that team,” Sacco said. “They really make you pay for mistakes. If you’re not diligent, if you’re not good with the puck, they’ll make you pay.”
   
Making matters more difficult, the Avalanche will be without two regular defensemen, Ryan Wilson and Kyle Quincey. Wilson hasn’t played since suffering a head injury on a hit by Vancouver’s Maxim Lapierre on Dec. 6, and Quincey is nursing a groin injury.
   
“The league obviously looked at it and didn’t think it was worthy of any fine or suspension,” Sacco said of Lapierre’s hit, which sent Wilson face first into the glass. “The unfortunate part is we lose one of our best defensemen and he’s out indefinitely. We don’t know how long it’s going to be. It’s frustrating, of course, to lose one of your top defensemen. There’s always hits around the league where you say, ‘What happened there? Why didn’t he get something?’ But the league does the best they can and we have to live with their decision.”
   
The Capitals have gone 4-4, with four wins in the past six games, since Dale Hunter replaced Bruce Boudreau as head coach on Nov. 29. They are coming off a 1-0 win in Winnipeg on Thursday behind 26 saves by goalie Michal Neuvirth and a goal by Ovechkin in the third period. Neuvirth will start against Colorado.
   
“They made a coaching change recently,” Sacco said. “Usually when that happens, the guys tend to have a little more game in them. It’ll be a fun game, a high-energy type of game. They like to skate and we like to skate and push the pace and they like to push the pace. I’m expecting a pretty entertaining game as far as that goes from a fans’ standpoint.”
   
Hunter was a second-round pick of the Quebec Nordiques, the Avalanche’s predecessors, in 1979 and he played seven seasons with the Nordiques. Hunter spent most of the next 12 seasons with Washington until March 23, 1999 when the Avalanche acquired him in a deadline deal while attempting to make a run at the Stanley Cup.
   
He had two goals, four assists and 17 penalty minutes in 12 regular-season games with the Avalanche. He added one goal, three assists and 38 penalty minutes in 19 playoff games. The Avalanche lost a seven-game series to Dallas in the Western Conference finals.
   
Hunter retired following the 1998-99 season, his 19th in the NHL. He finished with 323 goals, 697 assists and 3,565 penalty minutes in 1,407 regular-season games.
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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 4:11 PM

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

Projected lineups for Capitals, Avalanche

DENVER – These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

CAPITALS

Alex OvechkinNicklas BackstromAlexander Semin
Troy BrouwerMarcus JohanssonJeff Halpern
Jason ChimeraBrooks LaichJoel Ward
Matt HendricksMathieu PerreaultMike Knuble

Karl AlznerJohn Carlson
John ErskineDennis Wideman
Roman HamrlikDmitry Orlov

Michal Neuvirth
Tomas Vokoun

Injuries: RW Jay Beagle (concussion), D Mike Green (groin) and D Tom Poti (groin) are out.

AVALANCHE

Matt DuchenePaul StastnyDaniel Winnik
Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Milan Hejduk
Brad MaloneJay McClementTJ Galiardi
David Van Der Gulik – Ethan Brophey – Cody McLeod

Jan Hejda – Shane O’Brien
Stefan Elliott -- Erik Johnson
Matt Hunwick -- Ryan O’Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Semyon Varlamov

Injuries: RW David Jones (groin), RW Chuck Kobasew (head), LW Peter Mueller (head), C Mark Olver (head), D Kyle Quincey (groin), D Ryan Wilson (head) and RW Brandon Yip (groin) are out.

LW/C Kevin Porter will be scratched. He has completed a four-game suspension for a knee-on-knee hit against Vancouver’s David Booth in a Dec. 6 game.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 4:37 PM

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

Stastny returns for slumping Avalanche

DENVER – Paul Stastny will return to the Colorado Avalanche lineup tonight against the San Jose Sharks at Pepsi Center after missing three games with a torso injury. The teams will face off again Thursday in San Jose.
   
Stastny was injured late in the second period Dec. 4 in the Avalanche’s 4-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings. He’ll center a line with Matt Duchene and TJ Galiardi.
   
“It was tough being away, but I’ve been feeling better every day and I’ll be ready to go tonight,” Stastny said after the morning skate. “I just took an awkward hit and it kind of stunned me. It kind of weakened me around my torso area. It wasn’t comfortable at all. I really couldn’t push off or skate too hard or take draws or shoot pucks for a while.”
   
Right wing Brandon Yip suffered an apparent leg injury this morning and won’t play against the Sharks.

“He’s being re-evaluated right now,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said.

Without Yip, the Avalanche is down to 11 healthy forwards, so defenseman Matt Hunwick will suit up and slide between fourth-line duties and the blue line.
   
The victory against the Red Wings 10 days ago gave the Avalanche a three-game winning streak and completed an eight-game homestand with a 5-3 record, but the team followed it by losing all three games of a trip through Western Canada last week by the combined score of 13-3.
   
“No. 1, we have to try and minimize some of the mistakes that we’re making, be it with or without the puck,” Sacco said. “Another area that we can be better at is managing the puck. We were playing well before the road trip. We had a nice homestand and played solid hockey – just get back to making sure that we take care of the puck and that we play with good energy at home like we were before. We started to build something before we left for the road trip.”
   
The Avalanche’s power play has been in a prolonged slump, going 1-for-23 in the past seven games and 4-for-46 in a 14-game stretch. Colorado has allowed at least one power-play goal in five consecutive games, killing off just 19 of 26 penalties in that span.
   
The Sharks also are in a slump, posting a 2-5-1 record in eight games since rattling off a 12-2-1 record in their previous 15 games.
   
Like the Avalanche, the Sharks have been hampered by a poor power play and subpar penalty killing. They have gone 1-for-25 on power play in the past eight games and have permitted at least one power-play goal in five of those games, killing off just 16 of 22 penalties.
   
A number of the Sharks’ most talented forwards haven’t been producing of late. Patrick Marleau has gone seven games without point, Joe Pavelski has one goal and one assist in nine games, and Joe Thornton has eight assists but no goals in 11 games.
   
Martin Havlat has one goal – it came on a power play -- and 11 assists in 23 games this season after collecting 62 points (22 goals, 40 assists) with Minnesota in 2010-11 to tie Mikko Koivu for the team scoring lead. The Sharks acquired him July 3 in a trade that sent Dany Heatley to the Wild.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 4:28 PM

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

Projected lineups for Sharks, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

SHARKS

Joe Pavelski - Joe Thornton - Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Clowe - Logan Couture - Martin Havlat
Jamie McGinn - Patrick Marleau - Michal Handzus
Brad Winchester - Andrew Desjardins - Andrew Murray

Dan Boyle - Marc-Edouard Vlasic
Jason Demers - Brent Burns
Colin White - Justin Braun

Antti Niemi
Thomas Greiss

INJURIES: D Douglas Murray (upper body) and D Jim Vandermeer (upper body) are out.

AVALANCHE

Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - TJ Galiardi
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - David Jones
Matt Hunwick - Brad Malone - Cody McLeod

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Erik Johnson - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov
Jean-Sebastien Giguere

INJURIES: RW Chuck Kobasew (head), LW Peter Mueller (head), C Mark Olver (head), D Ryan Wilson (head) and RW Brandon Yip (leg) are out.

LW Kevin Porter has two games remaining on his four-game suspension for his knee-on-knee hit against Vancouver’s David Booth on Dec. 6.
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Posted On Friday, 12.02.2011 / 3:56 PM

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

Projected lineups for Blues, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

BLUES
Alex Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie
Chris Stewart - Patrik Berglund - Matt D'Agostini
Chris Porter - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
Vladimir Sobotka - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Kris Russell - Roman Polak
Ian Cole - Alex Pietrangelo

Jaroslav Halak is expected to start in goal with Brian Elliott as the backup.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Kevin Porter - TJ Galiardi - Brandon Yip

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 4:12 PM

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

Avs must make life difficult for opposing goalies

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche's lack of offense has become such a problem that it doesn't matter much which goalie the team is facing, especially at home.

"Unfortunately when we're playing, the opposition's goaltender has been the No. 1 star for a lot of nights," coach Joe Sacco said after this morning's skate. "We have to make it harder on the opposition's goalie, very simple."

The Avalanche have scored just 24 goals in 13 games at the Pepsi Center, so it should come as no surprise that the club has lost nine of them heading into tonight's contest with the New Jersey Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur, whose 630 wins are the most in NHL history.

The Avalanche are averaging over 30 shots per game and have registered between 40 and 51 shots five times, but too often the shots have been taken from the perimeter. Forwards haven't been doing a very good job of getting to the front of the net for deflections and tip-ins, or to hunt down rebounds.

"We've obviously had our troubles scoring at home," Sacco said. "We've been in a little bit of a slump. We're a young team right now that's having trouble scoring, having trouble finding the back of the net. We have to find ways, we have to come up with a solution to get scoring opportunities and to bury our chances when they're there."

More line changes are in store for tonight.

David Jones will move to right wing on a line with Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk will skate at right wing with Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly. Daniel Winnik will be at left wing with Jay McClement and Chuck Kobasew. Sacco was still tinkering with the fourth line.

"We're playing very well defensively, we just have to find ways to score," Duchene said. "If we can get on a track where were scoring three and five goals a game, which we're capable of doing, I think we'll be able to win some games. We just have to find that offense."

Defenseman Erik Johnson (groin) skated this morning but will miss his fourth game in a row. Left wing Peter Mueller (head, groin) also skated and will sit for the 22nd consecutive game.

The Devils are beginning a four-game road trip that includes stops in Minnesota, Winnipeg and Toronto. They've won three of their past four road games and are 7-5-0 on the road overall.

Left wing Eric Boulton is expected to return to the Devils' lineup after recovering from a broken right hand. Boulton hasn't played since getting injured Oct. 21 against San Jose.

Defenseman Andy Greene, who was hit with a shot Saturday in the Devils' 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, has a sore foot and won't play. He's expected to return at some point on the trip.

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Posted On Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 4:10 PM

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

Projected lineups for Devils, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

DEVILS
Zach Parise - Adam Henrique - Ilya Kovalchuk
Petr Sykora - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Mattias Tedenby - Tim Sestito - David Clarkson
Eric Boulton - Ryan Carter - Cam Janssen

Bryce Salvador - Adam Larsson
Mark Fraser - Anton Volchenkov
Henrik Tallinder - Mark Fayne

Martin Brodeur will start in goal with Johan Hedberg as the backup.

AVALANCHE
Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Milan Hejduk
Daniel Winnik - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew
Kevin Porter - TJ Galiardi - Brandon Yip

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Monday, 11.28.2011 / 3:22 PM

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

Projected lineups for Stars, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

STARS
Loui Eriksson - Jamie Benn - Michael Ryder
Steve Ott - Mike Ribeiro - Tomas Vincour
Eric Nystrom - Vernon Fiddler - Radek Dvorak
Krys Barch - Tom Wandell - Toby Peterson

Sheldon Souray - Stephane Robidas
Nicklas Grossman - Adam Pardy
Mark Fistric - Philip Larsen

Andrew Raycroft will start in goal with Richard Bachman as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Matt Duchene - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - TJ Galiardi - David Jones
Kevin Porter - Jay McClement - Chuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Ryan Wilson - Stefan Elliott
Jan Hejda - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.

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Posted On Saturday, 11.26.2011 / 2:51 PM

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

Avalanche put Johnson on IR, recall Elliott

DENVER – The Colorado Avalanche placed defenseman Erik Johnson on injured reserve today because of a groin injury and called up defenseman Stefan Elliott from the Lake Erie Monsters in the American Hockey League.

Elliott will be available for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center. Elliott, 20, had two goals, seven assists and a plus-five rating with Lake Erie. He was a second-round pick (49th overall) in the 2009 Entry Draft.

These are the projected lineups for tonight’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

OILERS

Ryan SmythRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Taylor HallShawn HorcoffAles Hemsky
Ryan JonesEric BelangerSam Gagner
Darcy HordichukAnton LanderLennart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Theo PeckhamJeff Petry
Colten TeubertTaylor Chorney

Devan Dubnyk is expected to start in goal with Nikolai Khabibulin as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Matt DuchenePaul StastnyMilan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeodTJ GaliardiDavid Jones
Kevin PorterJay McClementChuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey, Shane O’Brien
Jan Hejda, Stefan Elliott
Ryan Wilson, Ryan O’Byrne

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 4:55 PM

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

Varlamov back in net for Avalanche

DENVER – Semyon Varlamov will be back in goal for the Colorado Avalanche and Cory Schneider will remain in goal for the Vancouver Canucks tonight when the teams meet at Pepsi Center.

Varlamov, who is in a 0-5-1 slump, will make his first start since Nov. 15 when he faced 33 shots in the Avalanche’s 6-3 loss in Pittsburgh. He hasn’t won since Oct. 30, a 3-2 home win against Los Angeles, and served as the backup to Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the past three games.

Schneider will make his third start in a row as Roberto Luongo recovers from the upper-body injury he suffered Nov. 13 in the Canucks’ 4-1 win against the New York Islanders. Luongo took part in the optional pregame skate this morning and is expected to start Friday against Phoenix in the second game of the Canucks’ three-game road trip.

Schneider is coming off a 28-save performance Sunday in the Canucks’ 2-1 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators. He’s posted a 3-4-0 record with a 2.52 goals-against average and .912 save percentage.

Defenseman Keith Ballard (back spasms) and left wing Mason Raymond (vertebrae compression fracture) are close to returning, but they won’t play against Colorado.

After getting off to a hot start, Varlamov has allowed 20 goals during his six-game winless streak. He permitted seven goals in one game, six in another and was replaced by Giguere early in the second period of a 5-2 loss in Detroit on Nov. 8 after giving up three goals on 16 shots.

The Canucks have dominated the Avalanche in recent games, posting a 5-0-1 record against them last season and a 6-1-2 mark in the past nine games in Denver.

“They have a lot of high-end skill and they’re tough on the back end and they have good goaltending,” Avalanche center Paul Stastny said this morning. “They have depth everywhere and they’re a good special-teams team.”

The Canucks are especially potent on the power play. They lead the NHL with a 26.7 percent success rate and have connected for 10 goals on 24 man advantages (41.7 percent) in the past seven games.

The Avalanche has the second-best power play (25.7 percent) but probably will be without defenseman Erik Johnson, who is nursing a groin ailment, to play the point.

Colorado has lost four of the past five games overall and seven of 10 home games this season.

“I don’t think we’re playing as bad as our record indicates,” defenseman Shane O’Brien said. “At the same time, our record is what our record is. We still have six games left on this homestand, which is huge for us. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us. You don’t want to make excuses, but the hockey gods maybe haven’t been on our side; we’ve had some bad bounces. But at the same time, you create your own bounces with hard work.”
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Posted On Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 4:28 PM

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

Projected lineups for Canucks, Avalanche

DENVER -- These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Vancouver Canucks and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

CANUCKS

Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Alexandre Burrows
David Booth - Ryan Kesler - Chris Higgins
Manny Malhotra - Cody Hodgson - Jannik Hansen
Aaron Volpatti - Maxim Lapierre - Dale Weise

Kevin Bieksa - Dan Hamhuis
Alexander Edler - Sami Salo
Andrew Alberts - Aaron Rome

Cory Schneider will start in goal with Roberto Luongo as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel Landeskog - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Joakim Lindstrom - Paul Stastny - Chuck Kobasew
David Jones - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
TJ Galiardi - Jay McClement - Kevin Porter

Kyle Quincey - Shane O'Brien
Jan Hejda - Matt Hunwick
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.20.2011 / 3:53 PM

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

Giguere getting third straight start for Avs Sunday

DENVER -- Signed as a backup on July 1, Jean-Sebastien Giguere will make his third consecutive start in goal tonight when the Colorado Avalanche play the San Jose Sharks at the Pepsi Center.

Giguere, 34, is coming off a 3-0 win against Dallas on Friday when he made 24 saves, and he's stopped 41 of 42 shots in his past two starts.
   
"He's played very well the last two games and he deserves to get back in there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after the morning skate.

The Avalanche sent first- and second-round draft picks to Washington on July 1 to acquire Semyon Varlamov and signed him to a three-year, $8.3 million contract, but he's struggled after getting off to a hot start. Varlamov, 23, is winless (0-5-1) in six starts since a 3-2 victory against Los Angeles on Oct. 30.

"It's a situation where he played very well for us early on and he's going through a tough stretch," Sacco said. "Sometimes the best thing for a young goaltender is to see what's going on."

Giguere has played well in each of his seven games -- six starts and one relief appearance -- and is relishing another chance to return to the crease.

"You always want to play as many games as possible," said Giguere, who has a 4-2 record with a 1.68 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. "(Varlamov) is the guy they see as their future, the future of this team. It's normal to go through a slump, especially when you're young. He had a lot of emotion at the beginning of the year and that kind of slowly dies down as the year goes on. He just has to recapture that somehow.

"Everybody knows what he's capable of doing. He's working extremely hard in practice. Until then, as a backup, you have to be ready for situations like that."

Giguere's role includes being a mentor and sounding board for Varlamov, who owns a 5-8-1 record with a 3.30 GAA and .890 save percentage.

"I'm here to be a good teammate, too," Giguere said. "I've been through what he's going through many times. If anybody in this room knows what he's going through, it's me. I talk to him as much as I can and try to keep him positive, try to keep him smiling. That's what they wanted me here for. They know that with a young guy sometimes things can go wrong. It's always good to have a good veteran presence helping the young guy along."

The Avalanche will be trying to win back-to-back games for the first time since a five-game winning streak on the road from Oct. 10-17. It won't be easy against the Sharks, who are on a 5-1-1 roll and have gone 10-2-1 since Oct. 21.

The Sharks won their second game in a row with a 4-1 victory Saturday night in Dallas and didn't skate this morning.

"They're one of the powerhouses in the Western Conference and in the league," Sacco said. "They play a real strong cycle game, have a lot of big, strong power forwards and a big defense corps. They play a pretty straightforward game. They try to spend time in the offensive zone and wear you down. They're going to be a great test for us."
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Posted On Sunday, 11.20.2011 / 3:39 PM

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

Projected lineup for Sharks-Avalanche

These are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the San Jose Sharks and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

SHARKS

Logan CoutureJoe ThorntonJoe Pavelski

Ryane ClowePatrick MarleauMartin Havlat

Jamie McGinnMichal HandzusTorrey Mitchell

Brad WinchesterAndrew DesjardinsAndrew Murray

Dan Boyle, Douglas Murray

Brent Burns, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic

Jason Demers, Jim Vandermeer

Antti Niemi is expected to start in goal with Thomas Greiss as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Gabriel LandeskogMatt DucheneMilan Hejduk

Kevin PorterPaul StastnyBrandon Yip

David JonesRyan O'ReillyDaniel Winnik

TJ GaliardiJay McClementChuck Kobasew

Kyle QuinceyShane O'Brien

Ryan WilsonErik Johnson

Jan HejdaRyan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal with Semyon Varlamov as the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 5:12 PM

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

Struggling Avalanche shake up lines

DENVER -- It's shake-up time for the Colorado Avalanche. Coach Joe Saco has changed all four line combinations for tonight's game against the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Center, which kicks off a season-long eight-game homestand.

The Avalanche have lost three games in a row to fall two games under .500 (8-10-1), have gone 1-6-1 in the past eight games and have lost six of eight home games this season.

"It's important that we start to establish our strong home record now, and it starts tonight," Sacco said after this morning's optional skate. "It's important that we make up some ground here. But it has to start tonight; we can't look ahead."

Among the Avalanche changes: rookie left wing Gabriel Landeskog will move from center on Ryan O'Reilly’s line to a unit with center Matt Duchene and right wing Milan Hejduk; David Jones will skate at left wing with O'Reilly and right wing Daniel Winnik; and center Paul Stastny will skate with left wing Kevin Porter and right wing Brandon Yip.

Yip was activated from injured reserve and made his season debut Thursday in the Avalanche's 1-0 loss in Minnesota after recovering from a broken right forearm he suffered in training camp. Left wing Peter Mueller, who has missed 16 games to recover from the effects of a concussion that caused him to miss all last season, was placed on IR to make room for Yip.

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 17 shots Thursday, will start back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"(Changes) happen when you go through a little bit of a tough stretch here. You shake things up," Sacco said. "Sometimes it brings excitement to players to play with somebody different. We'll see how it goes."

The Stars have also been in a slump, losing three games in a row while being outscored 14-3 after winning four games in succession.

Dallas will welcome left wing Steve Ott back into the lineup. Ott, who missed six games with a hip injury, will skate on a line with center Jamie Benn and right wing Michael Ryder. To make room for Ott, the Stars placed right wing Adam Burish (hand) on the injured list.

Loui Eriksson will move to right wing on a line with left wing Brenden Morrow and center Mike Ribeiro.

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal. He faced 30 shots on Tuesday in the Stars' 6-0 loss to Florida.
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Posted On Friday, 11.18.2011 / 3:06 PM

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

Stars activate Ott, place Burish on injured reserve

DENVER -- Dallas Stars winger Steve Ott, who has missed six games because of a hip injury, went through another full practice on Thursday and is set to return for Friday's game at Colorado.

In advance of that move, the Stars activated Ott from the injured-reserve list. Winger Adam Burish (hand) went on the list.

Ott will come back in a different spot than anticipated.

Coach Glen Gulutzan had planned on plugging Ott into Burish's spot on a line with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro. Gulutzan changed his thinking and will use Ott with Jamie Benn and Michael Ryder. Loui Eriksson moves to the Ribeiro-Morrow line.

Gulutzan made the return Eriksson on the right side, where he has been effective in recent seasons. The move allows allows Ott to play on the left side, his natural spot.

"It's easier to have them in their positions, and it gives us some balance," Gulutzan said.

Kari Lehtonen will start at Colorado, with backup Andrew Raycroft in line for Saturday's home game against San Jose.

Defenseman Philip Larsen is also likely to play on Saturday. Larsen, brought back from the American Hockey League this week when defenseman Alex Goligoski went on the injured-reserve list, appeared in the first three games of the regular season, averaging 13:31 of playing time.
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 3:27 PM

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

Avalanche hope to snap skid against Flames

DENVER – Seven has been anything but a lucky digit for the Colorado Avalanche, which has lost that many times in succession to the Calgary Flames since a 6-5 win on Oct. 28, 2010.
   
“We need to win. We owe them big time,” Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey said of tonight’s meeting at the Pepsi Center.
   
The Flames won the final five games between the teams last season and defeated the Avalanche in the first two games this year, most recently a 2-1 victory last Sunday that was decided on a Curtis Glencross power-play goal in the second period.
   
Penalty killing has been a major sore spot for the Avalanche, which has allowed 13 goals in 30 short-handed situations (56.7 percent) in the past nine games.
   
“Our penalty kill is nowhere near good enough,” defenseman Shane O’Brien said. “We know that. It’s not for lack of preparation. It just comes down to us being more committed and paying the price. You have to take pride in killing penalties and I think we’ll get it back on track. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s something you have to do to win hockey games.”
   
The Avalanche, which turned a 3-0 deficit into a 4-3 overtime win against the New York Islanders on Thursday, hasn’t won back-to-back games since ripping off a five-game winning streak on the road from Oct. 10-17.
   
The Flames lost 4-1 in Chicago on Friday and have dropped three of their past four games while scoring a total of four goals. They have gone 1-for-12 on power plays in this stretch, the lone power-play goal coming in the win against Colorado.
   
The return of center Mikael Backlund from a broken finger could give the Flames a much-needed spark. He made his season debut Friday and is anchoring the top line with Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla.
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Posted On Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 2:40 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Avalanche

These are the projected lineups for Saturday night when the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche square off at Pepsi Center:

FLAMES

Alex TanguayMikael BacklundJarome Iginla
Curtis GlencrossOlli JokinenRene Bourque
Paul ByronRoman HorakLee Stempniak
Tom KostopoulosDavid MossTim Jackman

Jay BouwmeesterChris Butler
Scott Hannan – Mark Girodano
Derek Smith – T.J. Brodie

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to start in goal with Henrik Karlsson as the backup.

AVALANCHE

Joakim LindstromPaul StastnyMilan Hejduk
TJ GaliardiMatt DucheneDavid Jones
Gabriel Landeskog – Ryan O’Reilly – Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeodKevin Porter/Jay McClementChuck Kobasew

Kyle Quincey – Shane O’Brien
Ryan WilsonErik Johnson
Jan Hejda – Ryan O’Byrne

Semyon Varlamov will start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the backup.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 4:42 PM

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

Islanders, Avs looking to end slides

DENVER -- Two teams experiencing prolonged slumps, the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche, face off tonight at the Pepsi Center.

The Islanders have gone 1-5-2 since beginning the season with three wins in their first four games, while the Avalanche are in a 1-5-1 slide after winning six of the first eight games.

Both teams will start a goalie -- Al Montoya for New York and Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Colorado -- that played well in relief in the previous game. Montoya stopped 22 of 24 shots after replacing Evgeni Nabokov on Monday in the Islanders' 6-2 loss in Boston, while Giguere turned aside 12 of 13 shots after taking over for Semyon Varlamov on Tuesday in the Avalanche's 5-2 loss in Detroit.

Giguere, who signed a two-year, $2.5 million contract as a free agent July 1, will be making his first home appearance as a member of the Avalanche. He has a 2-1-0 record with a 1.98 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.

"I'm very excited," Giguere said after this morning's skate. "I think it's a great building to play in. it should be easier, I guess, to play at home although (it hasn't been). I'm looking forward to playing in front of our home fans. I feel good, rested. If there's any positive to being a backup, at least you should be rested when you get to play, and you should be excited. I feel like a little kid."

The Avalanche have scored just seven goals while losing five of six home games this season. Three of the goals came Oct. 30 in a 3-2 win against Los Angeles.

"This is a must-win for us," said Giguere, who stopped 31 of 34 shots in his previous start, a 4-2 loss in Calgary on Oct. 26. "We have to stop the bleeding right now. We can't let this go on any longer. We need to establish ourselves at home."

The Avalanche, who have gone 0-3-1 in the past four games overall, held a players-only meeting after practice Wednesday.

"We've done enough talking; now it's time to see some action," Giguere said. "We have no chance in hell in this League to make the playoffs if you don't (win at home). We had a good team meeting yesterday afternoon -- players only -- and we made sure that everybody's desperate level needs to go up a bit. Hopefully we will see that tonight."

Avalanche fans won't see left wing Peter Mueller, who had hoped to play after taking part in Wednesday's practice and in this morning's skate. Mueller, who missed all of last season to recover from a concussion, will sit out his 12th consecutive game with what the team lists as a head injury.

"He's still listed as day to day," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "We thought there might be a chance that he might play, but after the morning skate … he's not ready yet. He's still improving."

Montoya will make his first start since Oct. 20, when he stopped 26 of 30 shots in a 4-1 loss at Tampa Bay. He owns a 2-2-0 record with a 2.12 GAA and .928 save percentage.

The Islanders, who still are carrying three goalies, will use Rick DiPietro as the backup tonight.

The game also will feature a matchup between the Islanders' John Tavares and the Avalanche's Matt Duchene, the first and third picks, respectively, in the 2009 Entry Draft.

Tavares has 2 goals in the three previous meetings, all New York wins, while Duchene has none. Tavares leads the Islanders in scoring this season with 8 goals and 5 assists in 12 games. Duchene is tops among Avalanche scorers with 5 goals and 7 assists in 15 games.

The Islanders have beaten the Avalanche five times in a row and are 7-0-2 against Colorado since a 1-0 regulation loss in Denver on Nov. 16, 2001.
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Posted On Thursday, 11.10.2011 / 3:38 PM

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

Potential lineups for Avalanche, Islanders

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the New York Islanders and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

ISLANDERS
Matt Moulson - John Tavares - Michael Grabner
Brian Rolston - Frans Nielsen - P.A. Parenteau
Blake Comeau - Marty Reasoner - Kyle Okposo
Matt Martin - Josh Bailey - Jay Pandolfo

Mark Streit - Steve Staios
Andrew MacDonald - Travis Hamonic
Mark Eaton - Milan Jurcina

Al Montoya will start in goal, with Rick DiPietro the backup.

AVALANCHE
Joakim Lindstrom - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Kevin Porter - Matt Duchene - David Jones
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - T.J. Galiardi - Chuck Kobasew

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Shane O'Brien - Kyle Quincey
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Jean-Sebastien Giguere will start in goal, with Semyon Varlamov the backup.

For more on tonight's game, check out the preview here.
     
 

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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 3:45 PM

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

Duchene stays on wing after breakout game

DENVER – Matt Duchene, who is coming off a career-high four-point performance Friday, will remain at left wing Sunday night when the Colorado Avalanche takes on the Calgary Flames at the Pepsi Center.
   
Avalanche coach Joe Sacco sees no reason to move Duchene back to center following his three-goal, one-assist effort in a wild 7-6 overtime loss in Dallas. Duchene, who had two goals and four assists in the previous 12 games, will stay on the left side with center Paul Stastny and Milan Hejduk.
   
“I thought they had a good night offensively, especially Matty,” Sacco said after this morning’s skate. “So we’ll keep it together and see how it works tonight. Matty was skating the way that he can. Once he started moving his feet, the work ethic was there. It’s certainly a step in the right direction for him.”
   
Duchene, 20, has made a habit of getting off to slow starts, but he’s taken over the team scoring lead with five goals and as many assists. Ryan O’Reilly, also 20, has two goals and eight assists.
   
Duchene played with a variety of wings while centering the second line for the first 12 games after starting the season between Peter Mueller and Hejduk. Mueller will miss his 11th consecutive game tonight with a head injury after he sat out all last year to recover from a concussion, but he’s beginning to feel better and skated this morning for the second day in a row.
   
“I thought I was playing better even before (Friday),” Duchene said. “I think it gives you confidence. I felt I was right on the verge of that for a long time and it was fun to finally have the floodgates open a little bit. It was nice. It’s too bad we lost, but there were some positives to take away offensively for our whole team.”
   
The six goals Friday matched the total number of goals the Avalanche has scored in five home games, four of them losses, and it doesn’t get any easier tonight.
   
The Flames have beaten the Avalanche six times in a row while scoring 28 goals, and the most recent meeting was a 4-2 victory in Calgary on Oct. 26.
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Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 2:56 PM

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

Projected lineups for Flames, Avalanche

Here are the projected lineups for the game Sunday night between the Calgary Flames and Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center:

CALGARY

Curtis GlencrossOlli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Alex TanguayBrendan Morrison - Lee Stempniak
Rene BourqueRoman Horak - David Moss
Tom KostopoulosMatt Stajan - Tim Jackman

Chris Butler - Jay Bouwmeester
Mark Giordano - Cory Sarich
Scott HannanAnton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff is expected to start in goal with Henrik Karlsson serving as the backup.

COLORADO

Matt DuchenePaul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel LandeskogRyan O'ReillyDaniel Winnik
Joakim LindstromTJ GaliardiChuck Kobasew
Cody McLeodJay McClementKevin Porter

Jan HejdaErik Johnson
Shane O'BrienKyle Quincey
Ryan WilsonRyan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere serving as the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 10.28.2011 / 3:09 PM

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

Projected lineups for Oilers, Avalanche

Here are the projected lineups for tonight's game between the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center:

OILERS
Jordan Eberle - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Taylor Hall
Ryan Smyth - Shawn Horcoff - Ryan Jones
Magnus Paajarvi - Eric Belanger - Sam Gagner
Ben Eager - Anton Lander - Lennart Petrell

Tom Gilbert - Ladislav Smid
Theo Peckham - Corey Potter
Cam Barker - Andy Sutton

Devan Dubnyk is expected to start in goal with Nikolai Khabibulin serving as his backup.

AVALANCHE
David Jones - Paul Stastny - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Joakim Lindstrom - Matt Duchene - Chuck Kobasew
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - Kevin Porter

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Shane O'Brien - Kyle Quincey
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere serving as his backup.
     
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Posted On Thursday, 10.20.2011 / 3:30 PM

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

Avs' Mueller to miss home-and-home vs. Blackhawks

DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche left wing Peter Mueller, who is listed as day-to-day with a head injury, will miss at least two more games, a home-and-home series with the Chicago Blackhawks that begins tonight at the Pepsi Center.

The teams meet again Saturday at the United Center.

Mueller, who missed all last season to recover from a concussion, didn't take part in the pregame skate this morning after practicing Wednesday. He played in the first three games this year without collecting a point and has been scratched the past three games.

"He's not feeling well," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "After practice (on Wednesday) he notified us he wasn't feeling well. So he won't be available to us the next two games. We'll just see how he presents after that. When we get back from our game in Chicago, we'll see how he is the next day."

Mueller appeared to have made some progress on Wednesday when he took part in the full practice, alternating with Kevin Porter on the fourth line with Cody McLeod, Jay McClement and TJ Galiardi.

"Feeling great," he said after the practice. "Just getting everything back in the loop. Waiting for my time to come."

Mueller suffered two concussions in a five-month span, the first in an April 4, 2010 game against San Jose on a hit by Rob Blake. He missed the final four games of the 2009-10 season and all six first-round playoff games against the Sharks. He suffered another concussion when he was hit in the head by an errant stick in a Sept. 22, 2010 preseason game against Los Angeles.

The Avalanche are coming off a sweep of a five-game road trip after opening the season with a 3-0 home loss to Detroit.

The Blackhawks have gone 3-0-1 since opening the season with a 2-1 loss in Dallas. Right wing Marian Hossa returned to the lineup for Tuesday's road game against Phoenix after missing one game with an upper-body injury and scored a goal in a 5-2 win over the Coyotes.

Probable lineups for tonight:

BLACKHAWKS
Andrew Brunette - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Sharp
Daniel Carcillo - Patrick Kane - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Michael Frolik
Viktor Stalberg - Marcus Kruger - Jamal Mayers

Duncan Keith - Nick Leddy
Brent Seabrook - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Steve Montador - Sean O'Donnell

Corey Crawford is expected to start in goal with Ray Emery serving as backup.

AVALANCHE
David Jones - Paul Stastny - Chuck Kobasew
Joakim Lindstrom - Matt Duchene - Milan Hejduk
Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Winnik
Cody McLeod - Jay McClement - TJ Galiardi

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson
Shane O'Brien - Kyle Quincey
Ryan Wilson - Ryan O'Byrne

Semyon Varlamov is expected to start in goal with Jean-Sebastien Giguere serving as backup.

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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:59 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Avalanche Camp: Goalies steal the show in Colorado

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Overall, Avalanche coach Joe Sacco was pleased with what he saw Saturday while watching the team's first day of camp from a perch above the ice.
   
"I was impressed," he said. "I saw depth in today's scrimmages. I saw good, competitive games out there. I thought, looking up and down the roster, there weren't a lot of negative things. I liked the pace. Certainly you can see the depth in the organization; it showed out there on the ice today."
   
Sacco also liked what he saw of the five goalies who took part in scrimmages. That would include newcomers Semyon Varlamov, who signed a three-year, $8.5 million contract following his July 1 acquisition from Washington, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who signed a two-year, $2.5 million deal as a free agent.

The Avalanche is counting on the duo to fill what was a gaping hole in goal a year ago when the team allowed a NHL-worst 288 goals and finished No. 29 in the League standings.

"I thought the goalies were good, especially in games like this," Sacco said. "There are a lot of breakdowns and scoring chances. Guys are trying to show what they can do with the puck, so there were some mistakes and some turnovers."

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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:53 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Avalanche Camp: Goal by Elliott among highlights of Avs first day

CENTENNIAL, Colo. Stefan Elliott, one of the Avalanche's prized prospects, scored a goal in Saturday's second scrimmage with a wicked wrist shot from high in the right faceoff circle.
  
"Me being slated as an offensive defenseman, you're expected to put up numbers," he said. "It was nice that I scored today."
   
Elliott, 20, should be used to raising his arms in celebration after a goal. He was named the Western Hockey League's Defenseman of the Year last season after collecting 31 goals and 81 points in 71 games for the Saskatoon Blades.
  
A second-round pick (No. 49) in the 2009 Entry Draft (behind Avalanche centers Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly), Elliott completed his junior career as the highest-scoring defenseman in Blades history with 241 points (82 goals, 159 assists) in 282 games.
   
"He's very skilled," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "He's very good with the puck and he has a really good, quick shot – a nice, quick snap shot – a good release of the puck. He has high-end skill. I thought as the games went on with him he started to get more comfortable. You could see the confidence. He was rushing the puck up ice and joining in the attack – all the things that he does well as a young player."

This is Elliott's third camp, and he wants to make the most of it, knowing there appears to be an opening for an offensive defenseman following the June trade of John-Michael Liles to Toronto. 
   
"I felt pretty good, first day," he said. "I was sucking wind a little bit in the first scrimmage, but the second one I started to get a little more comfortable as it went on. I remember my first camp, I was pretty nervous in practices and things. I think now you just kind of settle down and just worry about playing.
   
"My expectations are higher than in my first camp coming in. Obviously I want to make the team this year. I want to play my best and see how things go. There's a lot of good competition, and that makes for a lot of hard battles."

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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:49 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Avalanche Camp: Cumiskey happy to be back on ice

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Head and neck injuries limited Kyle Cumiskey to just 18 games a year ago, but the speedy defenseman is healthy again and took part in Saturday's scrimmages.

Cumiskey missed the final 29 games with whiplash after sitting out 34 earlier games with a head injury.
   
The Avalanche is all too familiar with head ailments. Left wing Peter Mueller, who looked good while scrimmaging Saturday, missed all last season to recover from post-concussion syndrome, and 2010 first-round pick Joey Hishon remains sidelined with the same issue after getting hurt in the opening game of the Memorial Cup playoffs last spring.
   
"It's always tough," Cumiskey said of missing games. "You're sitting there and waiting and thinking about it all day. So it's awesome to be back out here again. I'm excited about it.
   
"I guess as players we have to respect each other a little more and watch the hits to the head. I'm just trying to protect myself a little more and be smarter that way."
   
Cumiskey was able to resume skating in May, about a month after the Avalanche missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs. A restricted free agent, he wasn't signed until Sept. 9 when he agreed to a one-year, $708,000 contract.
   
"I've been working out all summer and feeling good," he said. "I'm not really worried about (getting hurt again) or thinking about it. It's one of those things that you can't worry about or else you won't play your game.

"It was good to be out there again with the guys. I got to camp a little late so I didn't have a lot of time to skate with them before."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:38 PM

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Super Saturday

Avalanche Camp: A solid first showing for Landeskog

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – First-round pick Gabriel Landeskog, 18, made quite an impression on coach Joe Sacco when the Colorado Avalanche opened training camp Saturday before about 500 fans at the Family Sports Center.
   
"He did more than hold his own," Sacco said of Landeskog, a 6-foot-1, 204-pound left wing. "He was very good today. It was the first time I've gotten to see him play in live action. He's not that fancy from what I saw today, but he was always around the net. He's in the hard areas of the ice, he's in front of the net, he's in the corners, he's along the boards. He just seems to be doing a lot of the little things well for a player of his age."
   
Landeskog, selected with the No. 2 pick in last June's Entry Draft, also made some slick passes and launched some dangerous shots while skating mostly with center Jay McClement and right wing Kevin Porter in two scrimmages.
   
"Every time you go on the ice you want to make an impact on the game," said Landeskog, who wears jersey No. 92, his birth year. "You want to go out there and show the people in the stands and in the press box what you can do. I feel like I had an OK two games. First day and I'm glad to have it under my belt."

Landeskog gave the Avalanche a bit of a scare in the second scrimmage when he took a hit on his left knee and left the ice for the locker room. He managed to return after missing a couple of shifts and didn't look the worse for wear.
   
"I just got a little hit on my knee there, but it's all fine," he said. "It felt good when I got back on the ice. It's good."

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I think I'm lucky to be here and you definitely don't take very many things for granted, if you take anything for granted. I definitely put my family and my wife and my close family in perspective, that they're the most important thing in the world. I want to do whatever I can to play hockey, but like I said, under the right circumstances.

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