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McLeod To Return Wednesday vs. Phoenix

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche will have one of its injured players back when the team faces the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center.

Following Tuesday’s practice at Family Sports Center, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco announced that forward Cody McLeod (eye) will return to the Avalanche’s lineup tomorrow.

“Cody provides a lot of energy, both on and off the ice,” said Sacco. “He was playing very well before he got injured so it will be nice to have him back with that energy and physical style of play he brings every night.”

McLeod was injured during Colorado’s 3-2 shootout loss in Minnesota on Oct. 21 when the Wild’s Eric Belanger inadvertently hit him in the face with his stick. The third-year winger has missed Colorado’s past six games.

McLeod wore a visor during today’s skate, playing left wing on a line with Matt Duchene and Marek Svatos.

More Injury Updates
In other injury news, defenseman Tom Preissing (knee) took part in a full practice today. Preissing had recently been wearing an orange non-contact jersey while participating in parts of practice, but today wore a regular black sweater.

Also, forwards Matt Hendricks (groin) and Darcy Tucker (head), and defenseman Ruslan Salei (back) skated prior to today’s practice. Hendricks and Salei left the ice when practice began, but Tucker stayed out and took part in the majority of the drills.

While Tucker still hasn’t taken contact, Sacco said that having him back on the ice today was a “good sign.” The Avalanche head coach noted that the team will take a cautious approach with Tucker.

“We’re just taking it one day at a time with Darcy. I think maybe each day we’ll increase his workout and increase his intensity as long as he feels well and responds.”
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Goaltending Situation
Although the Avalanche and Coyotes boast the two hottest netminders in the league, at least one of them won’t be starting tomorrow night. Craig Anderson, who was named the NHL’s First Star of the Month on Monday, will receive his first break of the season as Peter Budaj gets the starting nod.

“He deserves the opportunity,” Sacco said of Budaj. “Craig has played, as we all know, extremely well for us. I think it’s the right time right now to give Craig a rest and get Peter in there.”

It remains to be seen if Phoenix will start Ilya Bryzgalov in tomorrow’s game. Bryzgalov was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Month for October after leading the league with a 1.78 goals-against average and three shutouts.

Willsie Reassigned
The Avalanche has reassigned forward Brian Willsie to the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League. Willsie was recalled from Lake Erie on Oct. 24 and made his season debut on Oct. 27 at Edmonton. The forward had played in the Avalanche’s past four games, totaling two shots on goal.

Schedule Notes
After a road-heavy October schedule the Avalanche will equally split road and home contests in the month of November, playing seven of each…Colorado will have its next three games and four of its next five at Pepsi Center…Of the Avalanche’s 14 November games, 12 are within the Western Conference (Tampa Bay and Philadelphia being the exceptions) and eight are against Northwest Division opponents.
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