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Avalanche Rink Notes: March 2

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The NHL’s schedule makers certainly didn’t cut the Colorado Avalanche any slack coming out of the Olympic break.

The Avs played in the first NHL contest immediately following the conclusion of the Olympic Winter Games, suffering a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Monday night. After having a day to practice on Tuesday, Colorado plays a back-to-back set against Anaheim and Phoenix on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, to make it three games in four nights.

On Monday, Colorado ran into a Detroit team that arrived in Denver fighting for a playoff berth, and things will be no different in the coming days for the Avalanche.

The Ducks are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the Western Conference playoff picture, sitting in the No. 10 spot with 67 points. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have three more points than the Avalanche and currently possess the No. 4 seed.

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With nearly every team in the league still jockeying for playoff position, the Avs know that teams playing desperation hockey is the status quo at this point in the season.

“We’re going to be in a bunch of tough battles the rest of the month, where every team is fighting to move up or battling for playoff position,” said defenseman Scott Hannan. “They’re going to be tough games. We knew that coming in and it’s going to be a race here.”

Injury Updates
Another Avalanche player was added to the injury list last night, as rookie forward Brandon Yip suffered a shoulder injury against Detroit in the third period. Yip did not take part in Tuesday’s practice.

“We’ll know more later on today the extent of the injury,” said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco.

Sacco added that Yip wouldn’t be flying out of Denver with his teammates today, but is holding out hope that he could join the club on the road, depending on the severity of the injury.

*Update: As it turns out, Yip's shoulder injury is more serious than it was first thought and will keep the rookie out of the lineup for 4-6 weeks.

Unlike Yip, defenseman Kyle Cumiskey is on the trip. The blueliner has been sidelined with complications from a head injury he suffered on Feb. 12 vs. Phoenix.

“We’re hopeful to start increasing his workload a little bit day-by-day,” said Sacco.

Finally, Sacco touched on Milan Hejduk. The veteran winger had an arthroscopic procedure on his knee prior to the Olympic break was held out of the lineup Monday night with a back ailment.

“He presented a little bit better this morning. He didn’t skate but will make the trip with us,” said Sacco. “Hopefully he’ll continue to progress and will be available for us tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then the next game.”

Anderson In Again
Avalanche goaltender Craig Anderson will make his 18th consecutive start (and 55th overall this season) Wednesday against Anaheim.

Anderson set a new Avalanche record on Monday night with his 17th straight start, bettering Patrick Roy’s mark of 16 set from Jan. 12 to Feb. 21, 1999.

“He’s been solid all season long,” said Sacco. “All I can ask of a goaltender every game is to give us a chance to win and I think he’s done that this year.”

The current Avalanche netminder still has a ways to go before tying the franchise record set by Ron Tugnutt, who started 26 straight contests for the Quebec Nordiques during the 1990-91 campaign.

As for Thursday’s game, Sacco said he hasn’t decided quite yet if Anderson or Peter Budaj will start the second half of Colorado’s back-to-back set.
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