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Avalanche Hoping for Stastny's Return

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Avalanche center Paul Stastny skated prior to Tuesday’s practice at Family Sports Center, testing out the foot he injured blocking a shot one week ago against the Minnesota Wild. Stastny has missed the Avalanche’s past two games, but the club is holding out hope that the forward will return tomorrow against the Anaheim Ducks.

“We’re hoping. He didn’t skate much today,” said Avalanche head coach Tony Granato. “It’s still bothering him, but we’ll see how he feels in the morning. He’s the only one out of the injured group that could potentially play tomorrow.”

Forward Marek Svatos and defenseman Lawrence Nycholat are the latest members of the injured group to which Granato referred. Both suffered head injuries during Sunday’s contest in San Jose and will be out indefinitely.

Meanwhile, defensemen Adam Foote and Daniel Tjarnqvist, along with forward Chris Stewart, remain out indefinitely with head injuries. Darcy Tucker (back) was not on the ice this morning and is still listed as day-to-day.

“You know what? Injuries are part of the game,” said assistant captain Ian Laperriere. “We had some during the year, but now it’s seemed to really hurt us at the end of the year. It’s part of our business. It’s a physical sport and guys get hurt. Fortunately for us, we have a good farm team. Guys are coming in and showing they are NHL players.”

The Avalanche will host the Ducks at Pepsi Center on Wednesday, beginning a quick two-game homestand that also features a Friday tilt against the Vancouver Canucks. Colorado will finish up the week with a contest in Anaheim, marking two meetings with the Ducks in a five-day span.

In fact, more than half of the Avalanche’s nine remaining games will come against just two clubs. In addition to the pair of contests against Anaheim, Colorado will see Vancouver three more times before the end of the season.

Sakic Making Progress
Avalanche captain Joe Sakic continues to make strides toward a possible late-season return to the ice. The 20-year NHL veteran again skated prior to practice on Tuesday and took part in a few shooting drills before taking his leave.

“He’s going to continue to skate on his own. Obviously today he was out there before us and stayed around for a couple of shooting drills,” said Granato. “As far as pinpointing an actual date when he’ll practice with us, that’s still a little too far out there.”

One thing was apparent during Sakic’s time on the ice this morning: He still possesses the deadly wrist shot that has helped him amass 625 goals in his NHL career.

After practice, netminder Peter Budaj sat in his locker, shaking his head in disbelief while defenseman John-Michael Liles gave him some good-natured ribbing. Budaj was the victim of multiple Sakic wristers that found openings where there seemingly weren’t any.

“He’s a great guy and a tremendous player,” Liles said of Sakic. “You can see even though he’s been off for so long he’s still putting the puck in the net. Those are pretty easy shots for him.”

While the captain’s wrist shot was the talk of the locker room, Laperriere said he was equally impressed by Sakic’s skating.

“He hasn’t done much in the past couple of months, but he looks really good skating-wise out there,” said Laperriere. “When he comes back I’m sure he’s going to look like he never missed a beat.”
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