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Contributions Across the Board

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
While you’ll find the usual suspects atop Colorado’s scoring chart – Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny each have six points (1g/5a), followed by Milan Hejduk with four (3g/1a) – the Avalanche has received contributions throughout its lineup to start the season.


Through four games, 17 of the 19 skaters making at least one appearance for the Avs have found the score sheet, including 12 players who have recorded goals. In addition, 11 skaters have tallied at least two points to start the season.

To point out just a few examples, Cody McCormick scored his first goal of the season Thursday after tallying an assist in his season debut Tuesday against Calgary. The beneficiary of that assist? Linemate Cody McLeod, who has two goals already this season after tallying four goals in 49 contests a year ago.

“You don’t expect either McLeod or McCormick to score 30 goals a year, but it’s great when they’re able to pitch in,” said Avalanche forward Wojtek Wolski. “They’re a valuable part of our team, especially with the way they finish checks. They bring an overall excitement to practices and games.”

Those kinds of contributions are seen as a bonus by Avalanche head coach Tony Granato. He already knows both players will do the little things his team needs, even with limited ice time. Contributing on the score sheet is simply an additional benefit.

“Points are something that’s a bonus from those guys. Their intensity and ability to accept their roles and responsibilities - of understanding they might sit on the bench for 10-15 minutes at a time and still have to go out there and try to have a momentum changing type of shift - that’s the character they have from within,” said Granato. “They’re character guys that understand what their roles and responsibilities are. The more guys understand what their position, role and responsibility are, the better chance you have to win.”
 
Another key area in which the Avs have experienced early-season success is on the power play. Through Thursday’s games, Colorado’s power play unit ranked sixth in the NHL with a 24.0% success rate (6-of-25). The Avs scored three goals during 11 opportunities against the Flyers.

Eight different players have recorded at least one point when the Avs are holding a man-advantage, with Paul Stastny leading the way with five points (1g/4a). The All-Star forward is tied for second in the league in both power-play assists and power-play points.

Raycroft to Start
Granato announced following Friday’s practice that Andrew Raycroft will get his second straight start when the Avalanche takes on the Dallas Stars Saturday at 12:00 p.m. MT at American Airlines Center.

“I liked what we saw, for sure. You have two goalies for a reason. Andrew played well enough to play tomorrow,” said Granato.

While Raycroft will get the starting nod, Granato said his confidence in Peter Budaj hasn’t wavered.

“Peter is still our guy that we’re going to rely on to win a lot of games for us,” said Granato. “Did we think it would come to this in Week 1 where Andrew would play back-to-back games? Probably not. But a lot of things happen during the season that you make adjustments to and do what’s right to prepare for the next game. This is one of them.”

Raycroft has made two career starts against Dallas, posting a 2-0 record with a 0.50 goals-against average and one shutout.

The Opposition
After Friday’s practice the Avalanche hopped on a plane destined for Dallas. The Stars (1-2-1) are coming off a 6-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues Thursday night at Scottrade Center. Krys Barch scored the Stars’ lone goal in the contest, while starting netminder Marty Turco was pulled following the second period after allowing five goals on 18 shots.

Colorado and Dallas met up twice in the preseason, with the Avs earning a 4-2 win at American Airlines Center and a 3-1 victory in Denver.

The Avalanche holds a 25-12-7-3 advantage in the all-time series against the Stars. The teams split their four contests last season, with each club earning a pair of victories on its home ice.


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