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Blake Comeau To Play Against Kings

Matt Duchene will miss his second consecutive game

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--There was mixed news out of Colorado Avalanche practice on Monday at Family Sports Center.

Blake Comeau will be back in the team's lineup after missing the past four games with a groin injury, but Matt Duchene will remain out as he continues to recover from a hit to the head on Friday versus the Winnipeg Jets.

Following Sunday's contest against the Boston Bruins, Avs head coach Jared Bednar was hopeful that Duchene would skate prior to practice if the forward felt good enough. That ended up not being the case.

"I guess he didn't feel like he was ready to skate this morning with the group," Bednar said. "So [the training staff] gave him the morning to see what it comes of it tomorrow."

Bednar also said Duchene might take part in morning skate prior to the Avalanche's home contest on Tuesday, but he has already been ruled out for the evening game versus the Los Angeles Kings.

Video: Coach Bednar's post-practice press conference

Comeau's impending return to the lineup resulted in the Avs making a roster move on Monday morning as rookie AJ Greer was sent back to the San Antonio Rampage after he made his NHL debut against Boston. The 19-year-old left wing played 16:34 and registered two shots and a takeaway in his first contest.

"He played well for us last night, and it's a good sign of some things to come," Bednar said of Colorado's 2015 second-round draft choice.

Bednar will make one lineup change on defense; Patrick Wiercioch will be back in after two games as a healthy scratch, while Eric Gelinas will be the odd D-man out against the Kings.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov will make his third consecutive start after stopping 44 shots in the loss to the Bruins.

"He was excellent," Bednar said of his goalie. "Going through the scoring chances, we gave up some good ones. They had a lot of shots, scoring chances were a little high for me. Not enough on our end. We were one of the lowest of the season, but Varly was good. He made all the saves we needed him to make. He gave us a chance to win. All we had to do was score one goal, and we had a chance to win the game and go to overtime."

Finding a way to create offense was a focus at Monday's practice, with plenty of attention being put on the power play. Colorado's man advantage ranks middle of the pack at 15th in the league with a 18.4-percent success rate, but the team has only scored three times in its last 25 opportunities over the previous seven outings.

"We changed our setup a little bit, and I think it is going to be more shooting power plays," said Mikhail Grigroenko, who was working on a unit with Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog on Monday. "We're going to have to be good on the power play in order to be good as a team. It just gives us momentum, and if we get some shots it can create some scoring chances and if we score it is going to help us in a game."

Bednar stressed the need to get both better quality looks and more pucks onto opposing netminders.

"We're not getting enough shots through to the net is one issue from our blue line. I think we could do a better job of finding some lanes and getting some playable pucks down to the net," Bednar noted. "A lot of it is some fancy plays, east-west plays when I think we could start driving the net more and putting the puck to the net more. That's what teams are doing against us and having success. We've done it at times, but not consistently enough."

Tuesday's matchup will be the first of three meetings for the Avalanche against the Kings this season. The clubs will then meet again for two contests in February.

Game time is set for 7 p.m. MT at Pepsi Center, and it will be televised locally on Altitude. Altitude Sports AM 950 in Denver and will carry the radio broadcasts. Tickets are still available. 

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