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Berra to Start vs. Bruins, Pickard Called Up

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

BOSTON—The Avs were on campus Wednesday afternoon as they held practice at Boston University in preparation for Thursday's tilt against the Bruins.

A day after goaltender Reto Berra made 25 saves in the Avs' 4-0 shutout win at the Philadelphia Flyers, the goalies once again highlighted the news to come out of the roughly 35-minute session at Agganis Arena. Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy confirmed that Berra will play against Boston and announced that the team is recalling Calvin Pickard from the San Antonio Rampage.

Roy said the reason for Pickard's call-up is that fellow goalie Semyon Varlamov hurt his groin during yesterday's morning skate. Varlamov is considered day-to-day.

In the meantime, it appears as if Berra will handle the starting duties in the crease. The Swiss netminder has been solid so far this season, registering a 1.50 goals-against average and .952 save percentage in six games. He has also recorded three shutouts in his last six starts, dating back to his final appearance last year against the Winnipeg Jets.

"It's nice to know if we do have a breakdown that he is back there to stop the puck and get the job done," forward Cody McLeod said. "We just want to make sure to block as many shots as we can, make it a bit easier on him. It's definitely confidence for the boys knowing that he is there to stop the puck."

Pickard will likely serve as Berra's backup in the near future as the club continues its seven-game trek out east. Pickard has played great down in the American Hockey League to begin the year, posting a 6-0-3 record with a 2.27 goals-against average and .935 save percentage in nine contests with the Rampage. He also earned his first AHL Goaltender of the Month honor for his performance in October.

There is some good news on the injury front for the Avalanche. Forward John Mitchell is close to returning from an oblique injury that has kept him out of the lineup the last three games.

"I hope he'll play tomorrow," Roy said of Mitchell's status for Thursday night. "I haven't talked to him right now, but I will when we get to the bus or the hotel. [Head athletic trainer Matt Sokolowski] seems to think that he will be ready to play tomorrow. We'll make a game-time decision."

Near the end of practice, several members of the BU men's hockey team gathered near their home bench and watched the Avs go through drills. Among them was Colorado forward prospect AJ Greer, who was selected No. 39 overall at this past summer's draft. The Joliette, Quebec, native is in his sophomore season with the Terriers.

"Definitely my confidence has gone up," Greer said of his second college campaign. "Just knowing that I have a little more trust of every guy in that locker room; I have a bigger leadership position on and off the ice. And also knowing that you have some people (outside of BU) that trust you, like with the Avalanche. Every aspect of my game has gained a lot of confidence, whether it is with the puck or with my decisions."

Boston is the Avalanche's second stop of its road trip. After Thursday's 5 p.m. MT game at TD Garden, the club will travel to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Saturday night.

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