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Avalanche Hockey Returns Monday

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Avalanche hockey returns on Monday night when Colorado and Detroit kick off the post-Olympic portion of their schedules at Pepsi Center (7:00 p.m./VERSUS).

With five consecutive days to practice before his club’s first game after the Olympic break, Avs’ head coach Joe Sacco decided to switch things up a bit yesterday and have his team run through an off-ice workout.

However, the club was back on the ice Sunday morning at Family Sports Center, preparing for Detroit. After spending 10 days away from the rink and 15 between games, the Avs seem universally excited and anxious to drop the puck tomorrow.

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“Even just being back in Denver is nice. It was a good break and we had a good time,” said rookie T.J. Galiardi. “It was obviously my first time having a break in the middle of the season like this, but I’m really happy to get back and get into some games.”

After a few hard skates earlier in the week and yesterday’s off-ice workout, Sacco and his coaching staff conducted more of a traditional in-season practice on Sunday.

“You need to be skated hard when you come back from a break,” said Galiardi. “You can’t just take it easy and then jump right into a game, because that’s where guys can get hurt. It’s been nice to get out there. Today we were pretty crisp, and for the day before a game that’s a good thing.”

Cumiskey Out, Hendricks Hopeful
While Colorado will return to action tomorrow, Kyle Cumiskey will not. After today’s practice, Sacco said that when Cumiskey reported to practice this past Wednesday he was still experiencing some symptoms from the head injury he suffered on Feb. 12 against Phoenix.

The good news is that the defenseman was able to complete an off-ice workout on Sunday.

And while the majority of the Avalanche’s players have gone just over two weeks without playing a game, it’s been much longer for Matt Hendricks. The center has not played since Jan. 18 vs. Edmonton due to an ankle injury, but is hopeful that he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow.

“I’m feeling like I’m ready to play,” said Hendricks. “I’m optimistic, but we’ll see for sure in the morning. It’s been a tough 40 days or so, and I’m ready to get back after it.”

Kamensky Alumni Night
Monday’s game against Detroit will not only signal the return of NHL hockey for Colorado’s fans, but will also mark the 10th and final Avalanche Alumni Night of the season.

Prior to the game against the Red Wings, the Avalanche Alumni Association will honor former winger Valeri Kamensky. The festivities will include a video tribute and ceremonial puck drop. All fans in attendance at Monday's game will also receive a free Valeri Kamensky poster from renowned painter Stephen Holland

Click here for a detailed look back at Kamensky’s career.

Like Father, Like Son
On Sunday afternoon, Paul Stastny and the United States will go head-to-head with Team Canada with an Olympic gold medal on the line. Stastny’s father, Peter, knows all about the pressure and excitement that comes along with representing your country.

The elder Stastny played in the 1980 Olympics for Czechoslovakia and the 1994 Games with Slovakia, and has since served as the team leader for the Slovak hockey team at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and the 2006 Games in Torino.

But according to Paul, his father has enjoyed playing his current role – that of simply a “hockey dad” – the most.

“He hasn’t said anything to me, and I don’t want him to say anything,” said Paul. “I think he just wants me to soak it all in and enjoy the moment. I’ve never seen someone so excited for these two weeks. I think this is hockey 24/7 for him so I think he’s more excited than I am at these Olympics.

“He’s been to five Olympics and these are his favorite, just with the atmosphere of the Games being in Canada, a hockey nation, and us doing so well and playing for a medal. I think it’s something he never dreamed of and something that makes me more excited than anything.”

Sacco reiterated after practice today that he expects Stastny to be available for Monday’s game against Detroit.

Stoa Reassigned
On Friday, the Avalanche activated and reassigned forward Ryan Stoa to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League. The rookie suffered a shoulder injury on Jan. 29 at Dallas and missed the Avalanche’s final eight games prior to the Olympic break.

Stoa has played two games for the Monsters since being reassigned, totaling a +2 plus/minus rating and two shots on goal as Lake Erie dropped a 3-2 decision to Syracuse on Friday and earned a 5-3 victory over Grand Rapids on Saturday.

The Monsters continue their playoff push by hosting Grand Rapids again on Sunday afternoon.

USA Hockey Magazine Editor-In-Chief Harry Thompson contributed to this report

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