Following a five-day layoff due to the NHL All-Star Break, the Colorado Avalanche returns to action on Wednesday when it hosts the Chicago Blackhawks at 7:30 p.m. in a game that will be televised nationally on Versus.
After taking some time to relax over the break, the Avs had a spirited practice for the second consecutive day in preparation for the stretch run.
“Having a couple of days off is always great because it gives the guys a chance to recharge the batteries,” said Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles. “With the energy in practice yesterday, everyone was flying and excited to be back around each other, we’re really looking forward to the game tomorrow.”
The Avalanche wraps up its five-game homestand against Chicago before taking to the road for back-to-back games against the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues on Friday and Saturday, respectively.
With 32 games remaining on the schedule, Colorado’s players and coaches realize that the time is here to make a strong push toward the playoffs. Duplicating the magic of last year’s stretch run – during which the Avalanche finished the season on a 15-2-2 tear – won’t be easy. But in a conference where a single win or loss can determine your postseason fate, the club is approaching each game as a must-win.
“We obviously have a lot of motivation here, right until the end of the year,” said Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville.
“It’s been the case all year long and the guys have been handling it well. It seems like everybody is in the same predicament we are on a lot of nights and that’s got to be the focus each and every game.”Stastny Due Back SoonPaul Stastny
did not skate with the team today, but completed an off-ice workout. According to Quenneville, the second-year forward is still on target for the original two-to-three week time frame following surgery to remove his appendix.
“There’s obviously a void and a gap without him in the lineup, but I think the guys that have been getting a little more responsibility have been doing a nice job,” said Quenneville. “We certainly don’t have as much offensive firepower without him in the lineup, but I think as our team game goes, we have to be smart, be patient and try to chip away.”Theodore to Start vs. Chicago
Jose Theodore will make his 11th consecutive start on Wednesday against Chicago. Over the past 10 games, the netminder has posted a 5-4-1 record with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.