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Morning Skate Report: April 5

by Ron Knabenbauer / Colorado Avalanche

For the first and only time this season, the Avalanche will take on the Detroit Red Wings on its home ice (7 p.m. MT; TV: Altitude; Radio: AM 950).

The two teams have met twice already this season, but both games were played in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena. The Avs have played well against the Red Wings in 2013, but they have yet to pick up a win as they’ve lost both games by one goal; 2-1 on March 5 and 3-2 last Monday.

Colorado will look to get off to a strong start this evening and take advantage of a likely tired Detroit squad that played last night in Phoenix.

“I remember last year when we went into their building, and we played well, came out hard the first 10 minutes and scored a couple of quick ones and that made it a completely different game,” said Gabriel Landeskog after this morning’s skate.

In Monday’s game against Detroit, Colorado scored both of their goals in the low slot, in front of Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard.

Right wing Aaron Palushaj said that the team would be looking to get behind the Detroit defensemen and score from a similar spot on the ice again tonight.

“We have to keep the game simple, especially against these guys, they have a lot of skilled offensive players,” Palushaj said. “We have to keep pucks in at their blue line and out of our blue line. We have to crash the net. We have to get more traffic in front [of their goalie].”

Tonight will be the last time that Colorado and Detroit can call each other conference rivals as the Red Wings are set to move to the Eastern Conference after this season due to realignment. However that doesn’t mean the great history between these two clubs will end as the Avs and the Wings will still play each other twice a year with a home-and-home series.

The number of games between the two teams could change after the 2015-16 season, as the alignment of the league may be relooked at it.

Avalanche Spotlight On: Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere will make his second straight start and his third consecutive appearance in net tonight for Colorado.

Jean-Sebastien Giguere
Goalie - COL
RECORD: 2-3-1
GAA: 2.81 | SVP: 0.912
He made 35 saves on Tuesday against Nashville and stopped all seven pucks he faced in relief on Monday in Detroit.

The 35-year-old is no stranger to the Red Wings as he was also the starting goalie in the first meeting with Detroit on March 5, making 31 saves.

“I think he’s played well,” coach Joe Sacco said of Giguere. “He played well when he went in for Varly in Detroit, he finished the game strong for us. I thought he also had a strong game against Nashville.”

Tonight’s contest will be Giguere’s eighth start and 11th appearance of the season. It will also be his 568th NHL game, which ties him with Arturs Irbe and Cesare Maniago for 47th on the all-time list for games played by a goaltender.

More Morning Notes

- The Avs are playing back-to-back games for the seventh time this season, as after tonight’s game against the Red Wings, they will travel to Phoenix to meet the Coyotes tomorrow. This is Colorado's fourth back-to-back set in a span of two weeks from March 23 to April 6. The Avalanche will have nine back-to-back games during this shortened season after playing 10 a year ago.

- With Jean-Sebastien Giguere getting the start tonight, head coach Joe Sacco said Semyon Varlamov is likely to be the starting goalie tomorrow night in Phoenix.

- Right wing David Jones had his first official skate with the team this morning after missing the last five contests with a knee injury. He will not play tonight, but he may make his return soon as he’ll be on the team’s trip to Arizona after the game.

- Center Paul Stastny will not play tonight and will not be on the trip for tomorrow’s game against the Coyotes. However his return to the ice may be soon as well as, he skated before today’s skate. He was also on the ice before yesterday’s practice.

- Sacco said there is no update to the injuries of Milan Hejduk (shoulder), Chuck Kobasew (back) or Ryan Wilson (ankle).

- The Avalanche has the league's second-best penalty kill on home ice at 91.3 percent (63/69). The Avs went 6-for-6 on the PK in their last home game on March 30 vs. Nashville, matching their best output of the season. It was the fourth time Colorado has gone 6-for-6 this year.

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