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Duchene "Probable" For Tuesday

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Avalanche center Matt Duchene made a somewhat surprising return to practice on Monday morning at Family Sports Center and may be in the lineup Tuesday when the Avalanche takes on the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to our training staff yet, but I would list him as probable for tomorrow,” Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco said following the skate. “He made it through a full practice this morning. He looked good. I haven’t had a chance to speak with him yet either, but like I said, he’ll be probable for tomorrow and that will be a nice addition back into our lineup. We’re obviously a team right now that needs some offense and he certainly can provide that.”

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Tuesday night’s contest will serve as the make-up game for the Feb. 1 tilt between the teams that was postponed due to severe weather in St. Louis.

Duchene suffered a hand injury during Colorado’s loss to the Calgary Flames on Valentine’s Day and has been sidelined for the team’s past two games. Two days after the injury, the team announced that he would be out indefinitely.

During Monday morning’s practice, Duchene center a line that featured Milan Hejduk and Kevin Porter on the wings. Following the skate Duchene declined to go into specifics about his injury, but noted that he feels comfortable with where he is physically at the moment.

“I think I’m ready to go, so I’m excited to get back,” he said. “It feels okay and we figured out a way for me to play without pain and keep it safe.

“I’m able to stabilize it so it doesn’t affect me, and it’s only going to get better.”

The second-year pro has been skating hard in recent days in an effort to stay properly conditioned. He continues to lead all Colorado players in goals (21) and points (47) while ranking fourth in assists (26) through 57 games.

Johnson, McClement Practice
Defenseman Erik Johnson and forward Jay McClement went through their first official practice with the Avalanche this morning. Colorado acquired the duo in a trade with St. Louis late Friday night.

“It was good, getting to know all the guys and the coaching staff. The system they’re trying to implement is good and it was nice to get a practice under your belt,” said Johnson.

Tuesday’s game will present a unique situation for the players (along with Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk, who were traded to St. Louis in the deal), as they will go up against their former team only days after being dealt.

“It’s pretty weird to come back that soon, but that’s part of the business and it’s going to be a fun game for sure,” added Johnson.

It would be understandable if the players were a bit road weary. After playing in Buffalo on Friday night and catching a flight back home to St. Louis, they were informed of the trade after getting off the plane. Johnson and McClement then went home, packed up a few things and hopped on an early morning flight to San Jose before playing in Saturday night’s game against the Sharks.

“It’s been a tough couple of days rest-wise,” said McClement. “I think it was good to get the first game in, meet the guys a little bit, get to know the team and we’re off and running.”

Both Johnson (the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft) and McClement (No. 57 overall in 2001) were drafted by the Blues and had spent their entire careers within St. Louis’ organization prior to the trade.

Elliott Update
New Avalanche goaltender Brian Elliott is yet to join the team following his Friday acquisition from the Ottawa Senators. Elliott is still working through the immigration paperwork process.

Sacco noted that the team is hoping to have Elliott available by mid-week, meaning he won’t be on the trip to St. Louis. Peter Budaj will start against the Blues and John Grahame will serve as the backup netminder.

“He should be available to us sometime this week. There hasn’t been a date confirmed yet,” said Sacco. “I don’t have a timetable yet.”

Programming Note
The broadcast of Colorado’s rescheduled contest against the Blues on Tuesday will see some channel changes on Comcast systems from what Avalanche fans may be accustomed to. Please see below to locate your local broadcast :

Standard Definition:
•         Channel 948:  Denver Metro, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, Loveland, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Granby, Rifle, Silt, Colorado Springs and Pueblo
•         Channel 66:  Avon/Vail, Summit County, Steamboat Springs
•         Channel 33:  Kremmling
Not available in New Mexico, Battlement Mesa or Trinidad

High Definition:
•         Channel 664:  Denver Metro, Fort Collins, Greeley, Longmont, Loveland, Pueblo, Aspen, Glenwood Springs, Granby, Rifle, Silt, Avon/Vail, Summit County, Steamboat Springs
•         Channel 701:  Colorado Springs
Not available in New Mexico, Kremmling, Battlement Mesa or Trinidad

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