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Avs Prepare for Blue Jackets

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Andrew Raycroft will be between the pipes when the Colorado Avalanche drops the puck with the Columbus Blue Jackets Thursday night at Pepsi Center (7:00 p.m.).

It will be a scheduled start for the 28-year old netminder, continuing Avalanche head coach Tony Granato’s plan of playing him roughly once per week. Raycroft won his previous two appearances this season, posting a 3.00 goals-against average in victories over Dallas and Philadelphia.

“I’m looking forward to getting him back in there,” said Granato. “He played a couple of big games for us and got us a couple wins.”

The game will also mark Adam Foote’s first meeting with the Blue Jackets following his return to Colorado.

Originally selected by the Quebec Nordiques with the 22nd overall pick in the 1989 Entry Draft, Foote spent the first 13 years of his career with the Quebec/Colorado franchise. Following the 2004-05 lockout season, the defenseman signed a free agent deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets and spent the better part of three seasons in Ohio before being reacquired by the Avalanche at the Feb. 26 trade deadline a season ago.

“It’s a special time, just like before when I had to come back and play Colorado,” said Foote. “You have friends, but at the end of the day they want to get the two points and you want to get two points and that’s simply what it comes down to.”

Foote’s 820 regular season games with the Avalanche/Nordiques organization ranks first among franchise defensemen and second in club history behind Avs captain Joe Sakic (1,372). Foote also ranks second in club history among blueliners with 180 assists, needing one helper to tie Sandis Ozolinsh for the franchise record.

The Opposition
Columbus has stumbled to a 3-6-0 record through nine games, including a 1-4-0 mark in five road contests. Losers of three straight, the Blue Jackets have received their offensive production from an assemblage of players this year. No skater on the roster has averaged a point-per-game, but Kristian Huselius, Jason Chimera and rookies Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek have all totaled three goals and four assists. Last season’s leading point-getter, 24-year old Rick Nash, leads the team with five goals.

One intriguing matchup Thursday will pit Columbus’ strong penalty kill against Colorado’s potent power play. Through Tuesday’s games, the Blue Jackets rank 10th in the league in killing penalties, having eclipsed 39-of-46 (84.8%) chances by their opponents. On the other side of the ice, Colorado’s power-play unit is ranked 10th in the league with an 18.8% (9-of-48) success rate.

Loose Pucks
Paul Stastny and Darcy Tucker did not skate today, but Granato said it was simply to give the players some rest…The Blue Jackets placed Pascal Leclaire (ankle) on IR Monday after the netminder left Saturday’s game against Minnesota early in the second period…Leclaire is expected to miss about a week…Fredrik Norrena got the start in net Monday during Columbus’ 3-2 loss to Anaheim.

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