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Hejduk, McLeod Will Return Monday

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
After a two-day break for the holidays, the Colorado Avalanche was back on the ice Sunday afternoon at Family Sports Center.

The short hiatus came at a good time for a banged-up Avalanche squad that was coming off consecutive home losses to the Los Angeles Kings and Minnesota Wild.

Thanks in part to the break, the Avs should head into Monday night’s game against the Detroit Red Wings in better collective health than they’ve experienced in some time.

Hejduk, McLeod Will Return
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The groin injuries that had been bothering Milan Hejduk and Cody McLeod appear to be a thing of the past. Both forwards took part in a full practice on Sunday and will be ready to return on Monday.

Hejduk, who hasn’t played since Dec. 10 at Atlanta, was leading the team in scoring with 31 points (11g/20a) at the time of his injury. The veteran still ranks third on the team in points despite missing the club’s past seven games. During this afternoon’s practice, Hejduk skated on a line with Matt Duchene and Tomas Fleischmann.

McLeod, meanwhile, left late in the second period of Colorado’s 6-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Dec. 17 and has missed the last three contests. In 32 games this season, the winger has totaled six points (4g/2a).

“It was good to get those two days of rest and to rest my groin,” said McLeod. “It feels pretty good. It’s tough when your team is losing and you’re sitting out. You just want to be out there helping them. But I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Also of note, Peter Budaj will start in goal tomorrow for the Avalanche – his first start since Dec. 4 at Tampa Bay. Budaj came on in relief of Craig Anderson during Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Minnesota and stopped all 18 shots he faced in 35:58 of action.

Mauldin Should Be Fine
Winger Greg Mauldin went through a full practice on Sunday and showed no ill effects from a somewhat scary incident during Thursday’s game against the Wild.

Early in the third period, Mauldin found himself in a race to the corner with Minnesota defenseman Marco Scandella when there was some contact between the pair. Scandella appeared to lose his footing and went down, while Mauldin stayed on his feet but couldn’t stop himself and went face-first into the boards. The Avalanche forward was attended to briefly and left the ice under his own power, but did not return to the game.

“I think Bruce Lee once said boards don’t hit back. He’s a liar,” said Mauldin. “Maybe they don’t hit back, but they definitely don’t move."

Mauldin, who had a bloody lip and a bruise on his forehead, should be available for Monday’s game.

Cumiskey, Stewart Skate
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Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey was on the ice and did some light skating prior to this afternoon’s practice. The defenseman has been out of action since suffering a head injury during an Oct. 30 contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center.

Cumiskey - who had five points (1g/4a) in 11 games before sustaining the injury – has missed the team’s past 24 contests. A season ago, he led all Colorado blueliners with seven goals.

Joining Cumiskey on the ice was forward Chris Stewart, who has been sidelined for the past month with a fractured hand suffered on Nov. 27 against the Minnesota Wild. The 23-year-old winger was pacing the Avalanche in goals (11) and ranked second in points (25) at the time of his injury.

During his time on the ice Sunday afternoon, Stewart skated without holding a stick. The fact that he’s back on the ice is encouraging news for the forward, who was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Month for October after finishing second among all League skaters with 16 points (9g/7a) in 11 games during the month.

Despite the positive news that Cumiskey and Stewart are now skating, there is still no solid timetable for their respective returns.
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