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Avs get lift from watching Fleischmann skate

Tuesday, 03.22.2011 / 4:54 PM / NHL Insider

By Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

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Avs get lift from watching Fleischmann skate
Tomas Fleischmann won't play again this season as he takes medication for blood clots in his lungs, but he took part in the morning skate for the Avalanche before Tuesday's game against the Blue Jackets.
DENVER -- A surprising dose of flash was added to the Colorado Avalanche's morning skate Tuesday, with an unexpected appearance by Tomas Fleischmann on the Pepsi Center ice.

The 26-year-old forward skated with ease, gliding down the ice before firing pucks at goalies Peter Budaj and Brian Elliott during non-contact drills.

"It was fun," he said. "I really enjoyed it. It was great. Shooting on the goalies was fun. I enjoy the team and the guys."

But Fleischmann is still taking medication for pulmonary emboli -- a blood clot in each of his lungs -- and he won't be playing in any games until next season.

Fleischmann was diagnosed with the condition on Jan. 20, after which he was put on blood thinners and shut down for the remainder of the year.

"It's been a long process for Tomas," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "Getting out there and being able to skate and being around the guys, I think that's important for him. It's good to see him out there, but you won't see him for the rest of the season."

Known as "Flash" to his teammates, Fleischmann was enjoying life in Colorado with 8 goals and 13 assists in 22 games following his Nov. 30 acquisition from Washington in exchange for defenseman Scott Hannan. Fourteen of his 21 points came in clutch situations, in the third period or overtime.

"He had roughly a point a game, but the biggest thing was he was a difference maker," Sacco said. "He was scoring some big timely goals and making some big timely plays for us."

The Avalanche were riding high at the time, posting an 11-7-4 record with Fleischmann on board and battling Vancouver for first place in the Northwest Division with a 24-16-6 record.

It's been a disaster since then heading into Tuesday night's game with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Colorado has gone 3-20-2 without Fleischmann to tumble out of the playoff race and is in 29th place in the NHL standings with 11 games to play.

Fleischmann hadn't skated with his teammates or been available for interviews until Tuesday's optional workout.

"There is nothing I can do right now," he said. "I wanted to get a little bit in shape. I had a couple drills with the boys and that's it. I feel good, but the problem is in my body, in my system, so that's what we have to fix. I think it is (getting better), but it's hard to say right now. It's been (nearly) three months, so there is still (time) to go. I don't know yet. We will decide with the doctors."

Fleischmann said it's been difficult not playing, but he's gotten accustomed to doing little more than lending moral support while attending practices and games.

Fleischmann missed the first 11 games of last season with the Capitals because of a blood clot in his leg.

"I had it two years ago, so I kind of knew what was going on and what's going to happen," he said. "It wasn't that scary, but I understand I have to listen to the doctors."

Fleischmann will be eligible for unrestricted free agency July 1, and the Avalanche are expected to attempt to re-sign him, assuming he's healthy.

Hejduk, Moreau milestones: Avalanche right wing Milan Hejduk will return to the lineup Tuesday and play in his 900th NHL game. Hejduk has missed the past four games with a shoulder injury.

Blue Jackets forward Ethan Moreau also will play in his 900th game.

"It is pretty cool to accomplish that, especially playing for one franchise," said Hejduk, who will skate on a line with left wing David Jones and center Paul Stastny. "It is definitely a special number. When you are a little kid playing hockey, you maybe can dream that things like that will happen. The chances are pretty slim, so I'm pretty lucky that way."

Hejduk needs one goal to give him 11 consecutive seasons with 20 or more goals. That would tie the franchise record held by Joe Sakic.

"I'll try to get it tonight," he said. "That (would be) another pretty cool accomplishment."

Road warriors: The Blue Jackets have won a franchise-record 17 road games and are well aware that the Avalanche have gone eight home games (0-7-1) without a victory.

The Blue Jackets also still have a chance to make the playoffs, though it's a long shot since they are nine points out of the eighth and final Western Conference postseason berth with only 10 games remaining.

The Avalanche, who haven't won at home since Jan. 24 against St. Louis, were in an 0-9-1 slump overall before Saturday's 3-2 shootout win in Edmonton and have allowed a League-worst 250 goals.

"They're feeling a little better about themselves now, getting that win," Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel said of the Avalanche. "But we want to make sure that our first period is rock solid. We want to put doubt back into their minds and get them back on their heels."

The Blue Jackets are coming off a listless 3-0 home loss to New Jersey on Sunday in which they had a season-low 13 shots on goal.

"We're a skating team," Arniel said. "We're a team that likes to attack. We made three mistakes on Sunday against New Jersey, and all three of them ended up in our net. Against (the Avalanche), we know we're going to get our chances in the offensive zone, and we have to take advantage of that. We have to take advantage of their mistakes down below the circles. It's a big difference, obviously, going from Jersey to these guys."
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