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Friday's Practice Report

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Defenseman Ryan O’Byrne joined his teammates for practice today, marking the first time he has done so since suffering a severe facial laceration on Feb. 23 against Edmonton. O’Byrne, wearing a full cage to protect a cut that required approximately 100 stitches to close, had skated by himself before Wednesday’s practice.

The defenseman won’t be available for Saturday’s home game against the Edmonton Oilers, but should be able to return Tuesday for Colorado’s game in Minnesota.

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Also, as expected, it was confirmed this morning that captain Adam Foote will return for Saturday’s game. The veteran defenseman last played on Jan. 7 at Phoenix, where he suffered a leg injury that has forced him to miss the past 11 games.

Brian Elliott will get the starting nod in goal against the Oilers. The netminder is coming off his strongest performance in an Avalanche uniform, having stopped 34-of-35 shots during Colorado’s 2-1 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Duchene Sees Similarities
It’s easy to make comparisons between the Avalanche and the Oilers that have nothing to do with the Western Conference standings.

Both teams boast a number of young stars in the making (Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Sam Gagner and Magnus Paajarvi are just a few examples from Edmonton’s side) and try to play a fast-paced, up-tempo game.

Those similarities aren’t lost on Matt Duchene and the rest of the Avalanche.

“They have a lot of speed. They’re a team that’s playing for pride right now and so are we. Games like that, you have to win,” said Duchene. “We’re obviously going to be playing each other next year and beyond, and a lot of the same guys will be on both teams. You want to send a message and try to get a mental edge on the other team.”

The Other Side
Speaking of Hall, the No. 1 overall pick’s status for Saturday’s game is in question after he suffered a left ankle injury during a fight Thursday night against Columbus.

Hall completed a Gordie Howe Hat Trick by dropping the gloves with Derek Dorsett (Hall’s first career NHL fight) in the second period, but came down awkwardly and did not return to the game. According to multiple reports out of Edmonton, Hall was in a walking boot when he met the media after the game.

Hall, who is scheduled for an MRI today, has posted five points (3g/2a) in three games against the Avalanche this season.

[Update...Hall will indeed miss Saturday's game, as well as the rest of the season, with a high-ankle sprain]

Odds and Ends
Forward Tomas Fleischmann (pulmonary emboli) has been skating on his own before practice recently, but he remains out for the season…The Avalanche won’t practice on Sunday, instead taking part in the Avs Better Halves Charity Brunch.
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