News and notes from the Colorado Avalanche practice
The Colorado Avalanche spent Tuesday morning preparing for its final contest of a four-game homestand on Wednesday night against the red-hot Anaheim Ducks, who have gone 11-0-1 in their last 12 games.
Defenseman Zach Redmond (lower body) and forward Blake Comeau (back) were absent from Tuesday’s practice, as both players with tending to minor injuries.
Head coach Patrick Roy said that he planned on rolling with the same lineup as he did in the Avs' 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday and added that both Redmond and Comeau should be good to go for the matchup versus Anaheim.
“Depending on the injuries, I think we’re going to be the same,” Roy said regarding line combinations against Anaheim. “[Andrew] Bodnarchuk might step into the lineup to replace Redmond, but if Redmond is capable of playing then I’m going to play him.”
Chris Bigras, who is out with a head injury, “was doing better today but will not be available for Wednesday’s game,” Roy added.
Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov will get his second-straight start in net when the Ducks make their first trip of the season to Pepsi Center.
Varlamov had a strong showing in the Avalanche's victory over the Coyotes on Monday, stopping 37 shots and keeping Arizona scoreless through the first two periods.
Monday’s game was the Russian goaltender’s first appearance in net since he was replaced by Calvin Pickard in the Avs’ 6-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild last Tuesday. The win was also Varlamov's first since Feb. 17 versus Montreal.
“It was good for him to take those couple of days off, those couple of games off,” Roy said regarding Varlamov’s absence from net. “We have the luxury to have [Pickard], and Pick plays really well for us, but I thought [Varlamov] was really solid yesterday. That’s what I said to him on the ice this morning, he looked very confident. He looked like he was ready to compete. His compete level was off the charts.”
With the win against Arizona, Colorado straddles the Western Conference wild-card line with 72 points. Minnesota, which also has 72 points, currently holds the tiebreaker for the second wild-card spot having played one fewer game. Nashville sits in the top wild-card position with 78 points.
NOT THE SAME DUCKS FROM OCTOBER
The Avalanche’s last decision against Anaheim was a 3-0 shutout on Oct. 16. The contest was Colorado's fourth game of the year and the club's first on the road.
A lot has changed since that meeting in October, a month in which the Ducks dropped nine of 10 contests. Currently, Anaheim leads the Pacific Division with 83 points and has gone 9-0-1 in its last 10 games.
“Huge turnaround. They’ve been playing some good hockey,” Roy said about the Ducks’ recent play. “You could ask anybody in the world of hockey, everybody knew they were going to be back on top at some point. They’ve got good leadership, and they’ve got great players out there.”
The bounce-back performance isn’t surprising to the Avs players either.
“The one thing we know is they are one of the best teams in the league right now, and they are playing unbelievable,” forward Matt Duchene said of Wednesday’s opponent. “Their top guys are going, and it’s a little different story than last time we played them, so we need to play our best tomorrow night.”
Colorado faces Anaheim once more this year on April 9 at Pepsi Center in the last game of the regular season.