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Avalanche Uses Days Off To Get Healthy

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The Avalanche received a bit of a break in its schedule early this week after playing some physical games against conference and division foes the past two weeks.

Colorado last played Saturday, winning 3-2 in a shootout over Minnesota, and has four days between contests before it next plays in Edmonton on Thursday night to begin a three-game Canadian road trip.

While the extra days of rest is a welcome sight for many Avs players, head coach Patrick Roy would have rather had his club continuing its momentum in games after winning five of its last six games, including three against fellow Central Division teams.

"We have been playing well, and I would have loved to have played some games but that is the way the schedule is," Roy said. "We're going to have to be ready for that first game in Edmonton. It is going to be a good challenge for us."

The four days has been good for several Avalanche players to get fully healthy, including Paul Stastny, who missed two games last week with a minor back injury, and Alex Tanguay, who last played Nov. 2 against Montreal and has been out with a knee injury.

Tanguay had skated three times in five days—the Avs didn't hold a practice on the other two days—but he didn't skate Tuesday at Family Sports Center.

However, it wasn't because the veteran left wing suffered a setback in his rehabilitation.

"It's part of a process," Roy said. "He skated hard the last two days, and the trainers thought it would be good for him to have a day off. Tomorrow he will be back on the ice."

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov also didn't practice Tuesday after he injured his groin in Saturday's win, where he made 35 saves and stopped all three Minnesota shooters in the shootout.

Semyon Varlamov makes a save against Jason Pominville to secure the Avs' 3-2 shootout win on Saturday. (Photo: Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Varlamov's injury isn't considered serious, and Roy said he expects the netminder to be a full participator in Wednesday's practice and start in net against the Oilers.

"He hurt a bit of his groin last game," Roy said. "[Head athletic trainer] Matt [Sokolowski] thought it would be better if he didn't go on the ice today. Tomorrow he'll be back on and will play against Edmonton in the first game of the road [trip]."

Goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere will get the start Friday in Calgary as the Avs play back-to-back games against teams from the former Northwest Division. Roy said Varlamov would likely play Sunday at Vancouver, but he first wants to talk with goaltending coach Francois Allaire, who will be on the road trip, before making a final decision.

Defenseman Ryan Wilson continued his rehab Tuesday and once again skated before practice as he attempts to come back from a back injury that's kept him out of the lineup for the last 11 games. He worked on skating and shooting drills with defense development consultant Adam Foote.

There is no timetable on Wilson's return, though, as Roy said Saturday morning he would like the d-man to get his conditioning up before playing him in a game.

One player who hasn't been able to get back to full health is center Matt Duchene, who has been under the weather with the flu the past few days.

Duchene had missed three games with an oblique injury before playing three games in four days last week, where he didn't quite look like a player who scored 20 points (12 goals and eight assists) in the first 19 games.

"If this flu hadn't hit me I would have been a lot better," Duchene said of getting over the oblique injury. "I felt awful the last two games and just trying to get back to square one physically. It's tough this time of year, you're well into the season, and I was working hard to get back from that injury. I'm just trying to take care of myself."

Duchene said he is hopeful he can get some rest over the next few days and be ready to go against Edmonton.

"I'm just trying to get better as soon as possible."

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