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Foote Returns In Loss To Oilers

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Avalanche captain Adam Foote returned to the lineup tonight against the Edmonton Oilers after missing the past 11 games with a leg injury sustained on Feb. 7 in Phoenix. Foote had joined the Avalanche on its recent three-game California road swing through Los Angeles, Anaheim and San Jose in hopes of playing at some point during the trip, but wasn’t completely ready to return at that time.

Tonight’s game marked the veteran’s 1,149th regular season contest, which pushed him past Borje Salming (1,148) for 39th place all-time among league defensemen. That number also places Foote fifth among active blueliners in regular season games played.

Foote saw 16:11 of ice time in his first game back and was the only Avalanche player to finish with a positive plus/minus rating (+1) on the evening.

Combining Centers
Centers Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny were in the starting lineup together tonight, with Duchene playing on the left wing, Stastny manning the pivot position and Jones occupying the right side.

The team’s top two centers have played together on occasion lately when Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco has tried to shake up his lines mid-game in an effort to generate some offense, but they haven’t spent the majority of a game together like they did tonight.

Late in the first period, Jones was replaced on the Duchene/Stastny line by veteran Milan Hejduk.

Stoa Sidelined
The Avalanche revealed on Saturday morning that forward Ryan Stoa will be out approximately two-to-three weeks after undergoing an emergency appendectomy.

Stoa has appeared in 12 games with the Avalanche this season during two separate recalls. The Bloomington, Minn., native has posted two goals, one game-winner and six penalty minutes with Colorado.

“We just found out this morning that he’ll be out two-to-three weeks, approximately,” Sacco confirmed following Saturday’s morning skate. “It’s another guy on the injured list, but as we always do, we try not to use those as excuses. We never have and we won’t start now, but certainly if you look at the man-games lost they add up.

“I feel like it affects the energy of our team sometimes, but again, like we always do, we worry about the players that are in the lineup and not the ones that are not available to us.”

Stoa ranked third on the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL) in scoring with 33 points (16g/17a) in 48 games at the time of his most recent recall on Feb. 18. He was also named to the Western Conference roster for the 2011 AHL All-Star Classic, but did not play in the contest because he was with the Avalanche at the time.

Avalanche assistant captain Paul Stastny underwent the same procedure back in January of 2008, causing him to sit out 15 games. Stastny was also forced to miss that year’s NHL All-Star Game, which would have marked his first appearance at the event.

Mueller Shut Down
Avalanche forward Peter Mueller has officially been shut down for the season due to lingering effects from a concussion, wiping out any hopes of him playing at all during the 2010-11 campaign.

The winger was acquired from Phoenix at the 2010 trade deadline and went on to post 20 points (9g/11a) in 15 games with the Avalanche during the stretch run of the 2009-10 season. That campaign was cut short, however, as Mueller suffered a concussion on April 4 against San Jose that forced him to sit out the final four regular season games and all six of Colorado’s playoff contests.

Mueller took part in the Avalanche’s training camp this season, but suffered another concussion during a preseason game on Sept. 22 against Los Angeles and has not played since.
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