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Cumiskey excited to finally return from concussion

Thursday, 01.20.2011 / 4:22 PM / NHL Insider

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

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Cumiskey excited to finally return from concussion
Sidelined since the end of October due to a concussion, Colorado defenseman Kyle Cumiskey returns to the lineup Thursday against Nashville.
DENVER -- Kyle Cumiskey had plenty of company while recovering from a concussion that prevented him from playing for the Colorado Avalanche for nearly three months.

Half a dozen teammates also were injured when the speedy 24-year-old defenseman was on the sidelines after getting hurt in an Oct. 30 game against Columbus.

"I wasn't too lonely. There were a lot of guys keeping me company," Cumiskey said with a smile Thursday morning at the Pepsi Center.

The 5-foot-10, 185-pounder will play his first game since the injury Thursday night when the Avalanche take on the Nashville Predators in the teams' initial meeting of the season.

"I'm excited to get back out there," said Cumiskey, who will replace Matt Hunwick in the lineup. "It's a little boring to be sitting around for that long a time. You see your team playing and you want to be out there to help. You get down a bit and it gets really frustrating, but I tried to stay as positive as I could."

Cumiskey, who has 1 goal and 4 assists in 11 games, is the fastest skater on the Avalanche and has plenty of offensive ability, but he'll concentrate on defense and getting the puck out of the Colorado end against Nashville.

"I'm excited to get back out there. It's a little boring to be sitting around for that long a time. You see your team playing and you want to be out there to help. You get down a bit and it gets really frustrating, but I tried to stay as positive as I could." -- Kyle Cumiskey

"He's a guy that brings energy and speed to our lineup," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "The thing that I really like about Kyle is his competitiveness. He's not the biggest guy, but he certainly plays bigger than his size. He goes back for pucks, he takes hits to make plays."

Cumiskey, who will wear a new helmet with thicker padding, suffered the injury when he was elbowed into the boards against the Blue Jackets. He never lost consciousness but said he endured headaches "every day" for several weeks.

"Finally it cleared up and I started doing some exercises without symptoms, so I knew I was better," he said.
"Concussions can be scary. You never know if you're going to be back in a week or, in my case, over two months."

Stoa in, Galiardi out: Forward Ryan Stoa, called up Wednesday from Lake Erie in the AHL, will make his season debut for the Avalanche, which assigned TJ Galiardi to the Cleveland-based team in a surprising move.

Galiardi, 22, had 7 goals and 6 assists in 28 games with the Avalanche, including 4 goals and 3 assists in 14 games after missing 17 with a broken wrist. He was a healthy scratch last Friday in Minnesota and logged 11:33 in ice time as a replacement for injured center Ryan O'Reilly on Tuesday against Vancouver.

"I've said all along TJ is a very effective player for us when he is skating, because that to me is the key for him," Sacco said. "Skating, using his speed, to be aggressive on the forecheck, to be difficult to play against. Right now, I think the best thing for him is to be in Lake Erie playing in all different situations.

"I feel he's a player who needs to go down and get some confidence. I think moving forward, he's certainly a guy we'll be counting on in the future. We haven't given up on him at all. This is the best thing for TJ right now, for his development."

Stoa, 23, was the Avalanche's second-round pick (No. 34) in the 2005 NHL entry draft. A 6-3, 200-pounder, Stoa had 15 goals and 13 assists in 44 games with Lake Erie this season and was named to the 2011 AHL All-Star Game. He had 2 goals and 1 assist in 12 games with the Avalanche last season.

"All reports indicated that Ryan was playing very well, worthy of a chance," Sacco said. "Ryan had some short stints with us before and it's another opportunity for a player to make his mark and establish himself. I would expect this time around for Ryan that he be more fired up and realizing the situation and opportunity that he has in front of him. He has that size and that ability to make plays, but I'm looking for energy and enthusiasm more so from Ryan than any other stuff right now."

Predators on a roll:
Nashville is in fourth place in the Western Conference with 56 points, two more than Colorado, and has split the first two games of a six-game road trip.

The Predators have outscored teams 37-20 while winning eight of their past 10 games and limiting opponents to two goals or fewer eight times in this stretch.

"Every year they're a very consistent team," Sacco said. "They're always right there. Their system is strong. They play their system to a ‘T' and they have very strong goaltending, very good defense. That's the backbone of their team. They have forwards that work extremely hard and pay the price.Every time you play these guys it's going to be a tough game. It's going to be a tight checking game."

Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has won eight of his past nine starts, allowed two goals or fewer in 14 of his past 17 games, and ranks second in the NHL in goals-against average (2.13) and save percentage (.928).
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