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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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Quote of the Day

He's able to play now, we just want to see other guys. We know what he can do.

— Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper on not rushing Steven Stamkos onto the ice