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Theodore welcomes former team to town

Friday, 02.20.2009 / 4:00 PM / Game-Day Skate

By Adam Schwartz - NHL.com Staff Writer

Washington goalie Jose Theodore faces the Avalanche (7 p.m. ET, GCL) for the first time since leaving Colorado for Washington as a free agent in one of just three games on the docket Friday night.

Two other games feature the Ducks, who suddenly find themselves out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, trying to climb up the standings against the Red Wings (7:30 p.m., RIS), and the Lightning hoping to avoid their fourth consecutive loss when they play the Hurricanes in a Southeast Division showdown.

Here's what to keep an eye on:

* Colorado defenseman Brett Clark, who is second in the League with 182 blocked shots, has a minus-8 rating in 27 road games, but a plus-8 rating in 31 home games. Clark leads the team with an average ice time of 22:05.

* Avalanche left wing Cody McLeod, who has 56 more hits than any teammate, has 12 goals in 58 games this season after scoring just 4 goals in 49 games last season as a rookie. McLeod, who has scored 10 of his goals at home, is tied for the team lead with 3 game-winning goals.

* Washington center Nicklas Backstrom, who leads the team with 47 assists, has 11 assists and 13 points in his last nine games, including five multiple-assist games. Backstrom, a finalist for the Calder Trophy last season, is tied for the Southeast Division lead and is fifth in the League with 20 power-play assists.

* The Capitals, who have made the playoffs just once in the last four seasons, are 13 points ahead of the Panthers for the Southeast Division crown. Their 23 home wins are the most in the Eastern Conference, and more wins than five Eastern Conference teams have overall. Washington is 25-5-2 when scoring first, but just 12-11-3 record when the opposition scores first.

* Tampa Bay right wing Ryan Malone, who is one of three Lightning players with at least 20 goals, had his third multiple-goal game of the season Thursday in Tampa Bay's 3-2 shootout loss to New Jersey. Malone, who is playing alongside Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, has 5 goals in his last four games.

* Lightning center Steven Stamkos, who had his first career hat trick Tuesday in Tampa Bay's 5-3 loss to Chicago, has 6 points in eight February games, which is as many points as he's had in any full month. Stamkos, who has scored 5 of his 10 goals on the power play, is averaging just 13:05 of ice time per game.

* Carolina center Eric Staal, who has had at least 70 points in the three previous seasons, has just 44 points in 59 games this season, putting him on pace for just 61, which would be the fewest he's scored since his rookie season.

 
* Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, who is second in the Pacific Division with 66 points, has 6 assists and 8 points in his last eight games; he had two three-point games in that span, but has been held pointless in four of those games. Getzlaf has 13 assists and 19 points in 14 career games against the Red Wings, including a three-point effort in his last game against Detroit.

* Anaheim defenseman Chris Pronger, who is joining teammates Todd Marchant and Bret Hedican as the third Ducks player to play their 1,000th NHL game this season,  is third among Pacific Division defensemen with 16 power-play assists. Pronger, who averages the fifth-most ice time in the League at 26:50 per game, played 32:32 Wednesday -- the most he's played since Dec. 19 -- in Anaheim's 4-3 loss to the Kings.

* Red Wings defenseman Brian Rafalski, who leads Western Conference defensemen and is second among NHL defensemen with 48 points, has 11 assists and 12 points in his last eight games. Rafalski, who reached 40 assists for the fourth consecutive season Wednesday in Detroit's 6-2 win against Nashville, has just 8 points and a minus-4 rating in 16 career games against the Ducks.

Contact Adam Schwartz at aschwartz@nhl.com.
Quote of the Day

(The tribute) was great, brought back a lot of memories. I felt I wanted to give them the thank you they deserved. I understand the booing and it was expected. They are great fans.

— Martin St. Louis after playing his first game in Tampa Bay since being traded to the Rangers last season
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