After a month of watching from the other side of the glass, Avalanche forward Brad Malone will be back in the lineup for tonight's game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Malone will replace the injured PA Parenteau, who hurt his knee Sunday night against Winnipeg and will miss roughly six weeks.
"You don't like to lose players, but at the same time everybody is exposed to a situation like this," Colorado head coach Patrick Roy said. "Just looking at Columbus tonight, they have been hit by injuries a lot, and I see it as an opportunity for some of our guys to take advantage of the situation."
Malone was recalled from Lake Erie (AHL) on Nov. 18 and appeared in five games this season to replace the then-injured Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny. He last played Nov. 29 at Minnesota and has been a healthy scratch for the past 14 games.
Despite not seeing a lot of playing time Malone said he feels good both mentally and physically and is ready to get back to playing with his Avs teammates. He has been working out nearly every day and has been skating at every possible opportunity with the coaching staff.
"The coaches have done a good job on keeping us ready," Malone said. "I've been working out a lot so physically I'm prepared, but mentally it's kind of the same approach as always. It will be nice to get out there and get that first shift over with."
Roy plans to insert Malone on the fourth line with Marc-Andre Cliche and Patrick Bordeleau, a pairing the 6-foot-2, 207-pound forward played with in his previous NHL games this year.
"We all bring something different to the table," Malone said of playing with Bordeleau and Cliche. "It's exciting because we are all comfortable with each other, and we understand our role. I don't think anything is going to change with me coming into the lineup. Just try to contribute and do what we can."
Malone has five points (one goal, four assists) in his 27-game NHL career that spans the past three seasons. He had eight points (four goals, four assists) in 15 games with Lake Erie before being recalled in November.
While it can be tough for a player to watch their teammates play without them, Malone said he understands that it’s a process to be the 13th forward and is still learning a lot from just watching.
"I just love being here, being around the room and at practice and getting to be with the guys," Malone said. "It's a great experience, and it's a great learning experience for me. You obviously want to be out there with the guys playing, but at the same time it's been great."
AVALANCHE SPOTLIGHT ON: GABRIEL LANDESKOG
|Gabriel Landeskog |
Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog is on a three-game point streak and is four points shy of 100 for his career. Landeskog has four points (two goals, two assists) in the last three contests.
He picked up an assist on Nathan MacKinnon's goal last game against the Jets that tied the contest at 1-1. Winnipeg had scored 29 seconds earlier.
The Stockholm, Sweden native ranks second on the team in points (27), assists (16) and hits (87), and is tied for third on the club in goals (11).
He had been playing on a line with Paul Stastny and PA Parenteau for the past few games. With Parenteau now out with an injury, Roy moved MacKinnon to Landeskog and Stastny's line last game, and the trio seemed to work well together. The rookie will remain on the line for the start of this evening's contest against the Blue Jackets.
MORE MORNING NOTES
- Semyon Varlamov will get the start in goal tonight for the Avalanche. He is 3-0-4 in his last eight games (seven starts) with a 2.06 goals-against average and .939 save percentage.
- With Parenteau's injury, Roy has shuffled his forward lines a bit. He moved MacKinnon onto a line with Stastny and Landeskog last game, and the rookie will remain there tonight. Jamie McGinn will move to a line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly while Cody McLeod will move from the fourth line to the third with John Mitchell and Maxime Talbot.
- The Avs tonight are facing their first Eastern Conference opponent since Nov. 16 (Florida), as Sunday's OT loss to Winnipeg ended a stretch of 19 consecutive Western Conference games. The Avs are 8-3-0 against Eastern Conference teams this year, 3-2-0 at home and 5-1-0 on the road.
- The Avs are playing at home on New Year's Eve for only the third time since the franchise moved to Denver and the first time ever at Pepsi Center. The only two times that Colorado has hosted a New Year's Eve game was Dec. 31, 1998 (6-3 loss to NY Rangers) and Dec. 31, 1997 (3-1 win over NY Islanders), both at McNichols Arena. Overall, this is the 11th time that the Avalanche will play on New Year's Eve, with the Avs posting a 5-4-1 mark in the previous 10. The Avs won their most recent NYE tilt on Dec. 31, 2011 at Anaheim (4-2). The Quebec Nordiques were 3-5-1 all-time on New Year's Eve.
- Prior to tonight's game, former Avs forward and current Blue Jackets assistant coach Dan Hinote will be honored by the Avalanche Alumni Association. This evening is one of three "Alumni Nights" this season. Colorado's seventh-round pick (167th overall) in the 1996 Entry Draft, Hinote spent his first six NHL seasons with Colorado, tallying 65 points (27g/38a) in 353 games. He was a member of the Avalanche's 2001 Stanley Cup championship team.