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Jones, Galiardi switching linemates as Avs look for offense

Thursday, 12.23.2010 / 4:52 PM / NHL Insider

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- The fact that Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco is planning to tweak his top two lines for Thursday's game against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center shouldn't come as a surprise.

Not in the wake of Tuesday's 5-0 drubbing at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings.

"When you lose 5-0 you kind of go back to the drawing board," Avs forward T.J. Galiardi said Thursday. "Our team has been really good at rebounding off a bad game and I don't think tonight is going to be any different."

Galiardi, who has skated with center Paul Stastny and left wing Kevin Porter since returning from a broken wrist, will switch lines with David Jones, who has been skating with center Matt Duchene and left wing Tomas Fleischmann.

The Avalanche's third line of Daniel Winnik, Ryan O'Reilly and Greg Mauldin will remain intact. Philippe Dupuis will center a fourth unit that includes Brandon Yip, but Sacco hadn't yet decided whether to dress left wing David Koci or a seventh defenseman.

"Usually when you have such a bad game, you have to do something," Galiardi said of Tuesday's loss, which snapped the Avalanche's six-game winning streak. "You just can't go back in with the same lineup. He's switching them around a little bit and I think it'll be good."

"When you lose 5-0 you kind of go back to the drawing board. Our team has been really good at rebounding off a bad game and I don't think tonight is going to be any different." -- Avalanche forward T.J. Galiardi

Forwards Milan Hejduk and Cody McLeod will sit out again because of groin injuries. Chris Stewart, nursing a broken hand, might start skating with the team next week and it's possible he could return to the lineup shortly after New Year's.

However, the Avalanche have been plagued by injuries since the season began and have managed to succeed using speed and an efficient forecheck on most nights.

Tuesday's poor performance was an exception.

"We didn't play our game. We didn't build up the speed that we wanted to because we turned the puck over too often and it slowed the game down," Sacco said. "When you do that, you find yourself chasing the game and you're using more energy on the backcheck and with your forecheck.

"For us, we have to put the puck deep, use our speed to create havoc on the forecheck. That really is the identity of our team -- making their defensemen feel uncomfortable when they're going back for the puck and spending more time in their zone."

Despite the loss -- the first time Colorado was shut out this season -- the Avalanche remain one point behind first-place Vancouver in the Northwest Division and in fourth place in the tightly-bunched Western Conference.

The Avalanche are 7-1-1 in their past nine home games and 6-2-3 in their last 11 games regardless of location

"When you look at the last 11 games, even with a four-game (winless) streak, we still got points in nine out of 11 games," Duchene said. "That's pretty impressive. I think we know that we can play with any team in the League and be one of the top teams in this League."

The Avalanche defeated the Wild 7-4 in the teams' previous meeting, Nov. 27 at the Pepsi Center, but that was an aberration in a rivalry that normally includes low-scoring outcomes.

"Usually the games are 1-0 and 2-1 with these guys because they play a trapping style," Galiardi said. "I think it'll be that style again."

Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom was pulled 6:49 into the third period of that game after allowing seven goals on 38 shots, but he's coming off two strong performances in back-to-back wins against Calgary, stopping 62 of 64 shots in a home-and-home sweep of the Flames.

The Wild is getting good production from its line of Pierre-Marc Bouchard, Kyle Brodziak and Martin Havlat. The trio has combined for 6 goals and 9 assists in the past nine games since Bouchard returned after missing all but one game last season recovering from post-concussion syndrome.

"I know we can still be better," said Bouchard, who has 1 goal and 4 assists. "It's only been nine games since we've been together. We're still working on some stuff."

Wild defenseman Nick Schultz will miss his second game in a row because of a head injury he suffered Saturday in the Wild's 3-1 win in Calgary.

It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery