Coming off what may have been the club’s biggest win of the season to date, the Avalanche held an optional practice Monday morning at Family Sports Center.
While Sunday’s 3-2 victory over Calgary gave Colorado sole possession of first place in the Northwest Division, the team knows it can’t rest on its laurels. On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals will make their first visit to Denver since Oct. 25, 2006.
To say the Capitals have a potent offense would be an understatement. Through Sunday’s games, Washington owns the most points in the NHL (46), has scored the most goals (118) and boasts the league’s top power play (23.9%).
In the Avalanche locker room today, the talk was focused around not falling into the trap of trying to mimic Washington’s style. Rather than playing to their opponent’s strengths, the Avs will try to employ the same style that has helped them gain the top spot in the Northwest Division.
“They definitely have some good offensive weapons and play a run-and-gun style of hockey,” said forward Chris Stewart. “We’re just going to try and not get caught up in that and stick to our game plan, and play Western Conference hockey and chip it in and cycle.”
Not only are the Capitals the top team in the league at the moment, they also have arguably the greatest player in the world. Alexander Ovechkin, the league’s reigning two-time Hart Trophy winner, has scored 21 goals in 25 games this season and is a threat every time he touches the puck.
“He’s one of the best players in the world right now,” said Stewart. “You like to watch him on a nightly basis and learn from the little things that he does. With a guy like that you just have to take away every shot he has.”Injury Updates
Following the skate, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco labeled both Milan Hejduk
(knee) and Marek Svatos (groin) “doubtful” for tomorrow’s game. Both players missed Sunday’s victory against Calgary and are considered day-to-day.
Sacco also gave a brief update on defenseman Kyle Cumiskey, who hasn’t played since suffering a foot injury on Nov. 23 against the Philadelphia Flyers.
“Cumiskey is still the same and he did not skate today,” said Sacco. “He is actually starting to feel better and we hope to have him skating soon.”
Finally, Sacco confirmed that Craig Anderson will start in goal against Washington.Mike Keane Alumni Night
Prior to the game against Washington, former Colorado forward Mike Keane will become the fifth player honored by the Avalanche Alumni Association this season, joining Joe Sakic, Alexei Gusarov, Shjon Podein and Uwe Krupp.
For a feature story on Keane and a complete list of Avalanche Alumni Nights, click here