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Avs Looking Forward, Moving Forward

by Ryan Boulding / Colorado Avalanche

Keep looking forward.

That’s what the Colorado Avalanche is doing as it nears the midpoint of the 2014-15 season. There are things that haven’t gone the way the club wanted them to and ones that have gone better than anyone could have expected; wins, losses, even injury woes have played a role.

Regardless, the players can’t dwell on what has come before and must focus solely on what’s next: Tuesday’s home matchup versus the Nashville Predators.

“You can’t look at what has happened in the past, at home or on the road or whatever. You have to just look at the next game and focus,” said Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog. “That’s all we’re going to focus on. We’re not going to look at three or four games down the road. We’re just going to focus on tomorrow and what we’re going to do.”

Tomorrow the Avalanche faces off in the first of three straight games at Pepsi Center. Nothing else matters at this point except preparing for that match.

“They’re playing well. They’ve been playing well all season,” Landeskog said of the Predators. “They picked up some guys over the course of the summer, and they’ve got Fillip Forsberg—a Swedish friend of mine that’s playing well. They’ve surprised a lot of people. A lot of people counted them out.”

Nashville is one of the top teams in the Central Division and will be sure to give Colorado all it can handle, especially with no end in sight to the string of injuries crippling the Avalanche roster.

The Avs received more troubling news following practice on Monday at Family Sports Center as goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who recently returned to the lineup, left early to consult with team doctors about the reemergence of pain in his groin.

“We’re going to play 19 [players] tomorrow, and Varly won’t play,” said Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy. “He’s going to see our team doctor. He doesn’t feel comfortable with his groin again. He re-injured himself today at practice.

“He was a little sore yesterday after practice, but today he just didn’t feel good enough to play tomorrow. We’ll make another decision after we speak to the team doctor this afternoon.”

With Varlamov out for at least one game, the Avs will again turn to rookie Calvin Pickard, a feel good story from this year. Pickard won’t be the only player getting the nod either.

Calvin Pickard
Goalie  - COL
Record: 3-4-0
GAA: 2.49 | Sv%: .922
“We’re going to have to call up somebody. This afternoon, I’m going to make a decision with Dean [Chynoweth] to see which forward we’ll call up. I haven’t made a decision yet,” Roy said of his plans to fill out the 19-man lineup. “Paul Carey had a really good game yesterday. There’s a chance it could be him.”

Carey was subsequently recalled from the Lake Erie Monsters.

With the amount of call-ups that the Avs have made this season, it’s easy for Roy to joke about his dealings with Chynoweth, the head coach of Colorado’s AHL affiliate.

“We talk every day,” Roy said with a guffaw. “We’re laughing but we’re not laughing. I’ve been talking to him a lot lately. Thank God he’s been doing a good job with our players down there.”

Whether or not it is an intended part of the conversation, the 134 man-games lost to injury thus far has certainly become a storyline for the Avalanche this season.

“[Jesse] Winchester hasn’t played a game, [Patrick] Bordeleau hasn’t played a game, [Jamie] McGinn played just a handful of games and he didn’t feel really good in half of them or pretty much every one of them,” said Roy, running down a list of the wounded. “[Ryan] Wilson didn’t play, [Brad] Stuart got hurt and missed a lot of games, Varly’s been out—he’s played what, 14 or 15 games so far this year? [John] Mitchell missed some games at the start of the season and is missing still.

“Not only is it tough, the injuries that we’re facing right now, but it’s hard to evaluate our team right now because of it. We’ve been missing so many players. It’s hard to appreciate the work we’ve done in the offseason.

“It’s hard to evaluate the work. It’s almost unfair to say ‘hey, you’re not producing like you should,’ but who would in that position? At the same time, I certainly appreciate the effort that we put together every night on the ice.”

Nine different players have been recalled—some multiple times—from the Monsters to date, and at times Colorado has received secondary scoring from the bottom two lines. That is something that helps take pressure off the rest of the team, according to Roy.

It’s not all gloom and doom for the Avs though. Some of the sidelined skaters are nearing their return.

“Mitchell, we think he could be back after our homestand, somewhere in Pittsburgh or Buffalo or Detroit. Same thing with Stuart and Cliche,” said Roy, updating the status of those with updates. “I think Bordeleau [will be back] toward the end of the month, and Everberg [as well]. When [Everberg] feels more strength in his shoulder, I think he’ll be ready to play.”

The puck drops Tuesday at 7 p.m. MT at Pepsi Center. Student Rush tickets will be available at the Pepsi Center Box Office starting at 10 a.m.

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