AVALANCHE (12-22-5) at DUCKS (27-8-5)
TV: ALT2, KDOC
Last 10: Colorado 1-8-1; Anaheim 5-4-1
Season series: The Anaheim Ducks have won both of their games with the Colorado Avalanche this season. In their last meeting, the Ducks edged the Avalanche, 4-3, in overtime on Feb. 24 at Honda Center. This will be the last time they play this season.
Big story: It's hard to find two teams that have had more different seasons than Colorado and Anaheim. While the Ducks, coming off a tumultuous 2011-12 that required a coaching change, have been among the top teams in the NHL and can clinch a postseason berth with a single point Wednesday night, the Avalanche have steadily dropped down the standings over the last month, landing in the Western Conference basement. Colorado will try to spoil Anaheim's bid to creep closer to the Chicago Blackhawks atop the West.
Avalanche: Colorado wasn't considered by many to be more than a playoff bubble team when the season began in January, but few might have foreseen just how far the Avalanche have tumbled this season. The Avs have just one regulation win in the last month, a span of 16 games or one full third of their 2012-13 schedule. As a result of the team's recent struggles -- and perhaps also its abysmal 2-15-3 road record -- Colorado now sits at the bottom of the NHL standings.
In their last game, the Avalanche lost to the Calgary Flames, 3-1, at Pepsi Center, allowing the Flames to gain a small cushion between them and Colorado for the League basement. The bigger concern, however, may be that goalie Semyon Varlamov was a late scratch due to a hip injury, which could also keep him out of the game Wednesday night. In addition to Varlamov, Colorado has also felt the injury bug among its top-six forwards, as Milan Hejduk has been out with a shoulder injury since March 30, and Paul Stastny, victim of a foot injury, has been out since March 25. It is believed Stastny could return to the lineup this week.
Ducks: Anaheim, on the other hand, is well on its way to its first Pacific Division title since the Ducks won the franchise's only Stanley Cup championship six years ago. The Ducks have a significant edge over the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks, who are currently jockeying for second place in the division, and the only question for Anaheim as the season reaches its final eight games seems to be whether or not the team can catch Chicago for the top seed in the postseason.
The game Wednesday night will conclude a five-game homestand for the Ducks, who have won five of their last seven games and allowed a total of just 12 goals over that span. There may be some mild concern in Anaheim regarding the health of Ryan Getzlaf, who has missed three games with a leg injury, but he is expected to return soon after being a game-time decision Monday night against Edmonton.
Who's hot: The late season signing of Radek Dvorak is starting to look like a good one for Anaheim. Dvorak has played just five games this season, but he has three goals since joining the team. … Despite his team's struggles, Colorado's Matt Duchene has managed to keep a nearly-point-per-game pace with 15 goals and 21 assists through 38 games.
Injury report: Sheldon Souray (lower body) and Getzlaf (leg) are both considered questionable for Anaheim. … Varlamov (hip), Chuck Kobasew (back), Hejduk (shoulder) and Stastny (foot) are all questionable for Colorado.
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