The Avalanche opens a crucial three-game road swing against Northwest Division rivals on Wednesday with a contest against the Vancouver Canucks. Following that tilt, the Avs will have road games against Edmonton (Nov. 15) and Calgary (Nov. 18).
The season is still young, but the Avalanche isn’t about to take this stretch of games lightly.
“It’s still early in the season, but you come down to the end of the year and trips like these can definitely decide whether or not you’re where you want to be,” said Liles. “We have to be prepared. It’s not like we’re facing back-to-back games; we’ve got a couple of days between games, so we’ve got time on our side to rest.”
The Avs will face a tall task, as they will be going against a white-hot goalie in Roberto Luongo. The Canucks’ netminder has recorded three consecutive shutouts and four in his last six games overall. So far this season Luongo has posted a 9-5-0 record with a 2.34 goals-against average, a .920 save percentage and five shutouts in 14 appearances.
“A lot starts with Luongo, but the Sedins are very dangerous and their defense is as solid as anybody’s,” said Liles. “They had a pretty solid team last year. They had quite a few injuries I think, and that never helps anything.”
The Avalanche will again start Peter Budaj between the pipes, and the netminder is looking forward to his matchup against one of the league’s top goaltenders.
“If you ask any goalie, he wants to outplay the goalie on the other end,” said Budaj. “Every goalie is beatable and we know that Luongo is playing really good right now; he’s a great goalie. We just have to do the little things right. Get some traffic in front of him, get some rebounds and hopefully we get onto him.”Sakic’s Status
Avalanche captain Joe Sakic (back) did not practice today and will not be with the team tomorrow in Vancouver.
“He’s going to continue his treatments here,” said Avalanche head coach Tony Granato
. “He won’t be on the ice until it starts to feel a little better, and hopefully that’s in the next couple of days.”
Granato is holding out hope that Sakic could join the team at some point during the road swing if the captain’s health improves, but won’t rush him back into action until he’s 100%.
“Hopefully he’ll get better, make some progress and join us before the end of the trip,” said Granato. “Like I told you a few days ago, I don’t think it’s anything long-term. Now, since it happened a second time after he (played against Nashville) I think we’ll be more cautious on our end.”Arnason In
Tyler Arnason will return to the Avalanche’s lineup tomorrow. The center, who has scored two goals in 13 games this season, was a healthy scratch in Saturday’s victory over Nashville.
“He’s an NHL player and we need to get him playing the way he can help us. If he couldn’t help us, he wouldn’t be in our organization,” said Granato. “Obviously now with Joe being out of the lineup, he’ll get his chance to be back in. I hope he takes it and makes the most of it.”Notables
The Avalanche currently has a six-game winning streak against the Cancuks…Milan Hejduk
has 33 goals and 52 points in 55 games against Vancouver, his highest totals against any NHL team…Liles has totaled 19 points (4g/15a) in 30 games against the Canucks, his highest point total versus any club…Marek Svatos also has his highest goal (10) and point (17) totals against Vancouver.