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Morning Skate Report: April 19

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

After missing the last five games because of a hip injury, Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov will be back in the crease for tonight's game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Varlamov suffered the hip ailment on April 8 before the club’s game against the Calgary Flames. He was available for Colorado’s last contest on Monday against Columbus, but he was kept off the ice to give him another day of recovery.

Prior to the injury, Colorado head coach Joe Sacco described Varlamov’s play as up and down. He had a 34-save, shutout win against Nashville on March 30 but then struggled in losses at Detroit and at Phoenix days later.

Sacco said he would be looking for his goalie to rebound from his last couple of games and finish the season strong

“It’s a good time for him right now in the course of these last five games to get his game back on track, be real solid in there for us,” Sacco said.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere has started in four of the last five contests for the Avs. He has been the goalie of record in all five games while Varlamov has been out, sporting a 2-1-2 mark.

Sacco also said that right wing Milan Hejduk will be in the lineup after missing the last nine games with a shoulder injury, though he was a healthy scratch in the last four.

“It an opportunity to get him back in there again and get him going,” Sacco said of Hejduk. “Hopefully he will make a good, positive contribution to our lineup tonight. He obviously brings some leadership to our lineup.”

The Colorado coach said he hasn’t decided which line Hejduk will play on yet, and he didn’t say which player the veteran forward would replace in the lineup.

Hejduk suffered the shoulder injury early in the March 30 home game versus Nashville.

Avalanche Spotlight On: Cody McLeod

Known more as the enforcer of the team, Cody McLeod has found his scoring touch recently. He scored twice in the Avalanche’s last game on Monday against the Blue Jackets and now has three goals in the last two games and six total this year.

Cody McLeod
Left Wing - COL
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 10
SOG: 64 | +/-: 5
His two goals against Columbus tied a career-high, and it was his fourth multi-goal game of his career. The last time he had scored twice in a contest was on Oct. 17, 2009 at Detroit.

McLeod, who has played all 43 games this season, also scored in last Saturday’s win against Vancouver and has goals in back-to-back games for the third time in his career and for the first time since March 17-19, 2009.

His role has expanded this season as he’s seen time on a top two forward line, playing with Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly, and on the penalty kill. He has played 65:17 of penalty kill time this season, the seventh-most on the team and the third-most among forwards.

However, the Binscarth, Manitoba native hasn’t lost his physical edge as he still leads the team with 77 penalty minutes and seven fighting majors.

More Morning Notes

- Ryan Wilson has been skating before recent practices, but he is still out indefinitely with an ankle injury. Sacco said he is making progress and hasn’t ruled him out of coming back before the end of the season.

- Erik Johnson is still day-to-day with his hand injury and will not play tonight. He has missed the last two games after being hurt early in the April 11 contest at Los Angeles.

- The Colorado Avalanche will host its second annual “Military Appreciation Night” this Sunday, April 21, against the St. Louis Blues.

- Former Avalanche defenseman and captain Adam Foote was inducted into the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday night. Foote will have his No. 52 retired by the Avalanche organization next season, game and date still to be decided.

- Matt Duchene (1g/5a) and Jamie McGinn (2g/4a) lead the Avs in scoring against the Oilers this year with six points each.

- Duchene has 23 points (6g/17a) in 19 career games versus Edmonton, his most points against any NHL opponent.

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