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Burgundy/White Game Features Intriguing Lineup

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

After two days of scrimmages at the team's practice facility, the Colorado Avalanche will play in the closest thing to a real game before jumping right into its preseason schedule.

The official end to training camp is Sunday for the Avalanche as the players take part in the annual Burgundy/White Game at Magness Arena. Puck drop for the intra-squad scrimmage is at 11 a.m. on the campus of the University of Denver.

This marks the fifth time that DU has held the event and the first since 2006. The home of the Pioneers hockey team also hosted the contest in 2002, 2003 and 2005. The U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs hosted the last two games, which included a 3-1 win by Team Burgundy last year. Burgundy is 9-4 all-time in the preseason scrimmage.

This year's 14th annual contest will closely resemble what the players will see the following day during the Avalanche's split-squad preseason games against the Anaheim Ducks. Half of the team on Monday will face the Ducks at Pepsi Center at 7 p.m. MT, while the other half will be in Anaheim for an 8 p.m. MT tilt at Honda Center.

Sunday's intra-squad game will feature three periods of 20 minutes each, and will include stoppages of play and power plays. This will be different from the last two days of training camp where the scrimmages featured three 15-minute periods with a running clock and a penalty shot when there was an infraction.

Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy gave a sneak peek of what fans might expect in the Burgundy/White Game after the team's training camp activities on Saturday at Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colo. He said that each squad would use four full lines of forwards, six defensemen and three goalies, with one netminder playing in each period. Not everyone on the Avs' training camp roster will participate as only 42 of the 67 players will dress.

A full roster and lineup of both teams will be released on Sunday morning, but Roy said that most of the returning players from last season's Central Division-championship team would be in uniform. The game will also feature several line combinations and defensive pairings that might be used throughout the preseason and in the Oct. 9 season opener at Minnesota.

Roy said his expected top-six would be intact for the Burgundy/White Game, with Matt Duchene, Ryan O'Reilly and Jarome Iginla on one line and Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Tanguay on another.

There will already be some chemistry there in Roy's top-two forward groups as Duchene and O'Reilly played together for most of last season, and Tanguay was on a line with Landeskog before he went down with knee and hip injuries. The contest will be a fairly new experience for Iginla and MacKinnon as they have yet to really play with their new linemates.

"That will give a chance for them to feel comfortable on the ice and play together before playing their first exhibition game," Roy said.

Another combination to watch is the Avs' top defensive pairing, which according to Roy would include Erik Johnson and Brad Stuart.

Johnson was undoubtedly the club's best all-around defenseman last season as he tied a career-high with 39 points (nine goals, 30 assists) and led the club in ice time at 23:00 per game. Stuart is entering his first season with Colorado after being acquired in a trade with the San Jose Sharks in the offseason, and Roy has liked what he has seen so far.

"Pretty impressed. He really looked confident out there," Roy said of the 34-year-old Stuart. "You could tell that he's a guy that has had some success, winning a Stanley Cup. Looking at him in those scrimmages, some times a veteran could take it lightly; it's not his case. He's playing hard every time he is on the ice. I think he is going to be a great fit for us."

Sunday's game will also be a big chance for players on the 'bubble' to get an inside track of making the club's opening-night roster.

With Patrick Bordeleau, who played in all 82 games last season, expected to miss approximately three months after having back surgery, an NHL roster spot may be open and prospects and newcomers will be looking to take full advantage of the opportunity.

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