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Mueller Out Indefinitely

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Just when the Avs were beginning to get healthy, another key player went down with an injury on Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks.

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Forward Peter Mueller was not on the ice today for Colorado’s practice, and Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco reported after the skate that Mueller suffered a concussion and is out indefinitely. He will not join the club on its road trip through Vancouver (Tuesday) and Edmonton (Wednesday).

“Peter has been an important player for us and a very useful player for us since the trade,” said Sacco. “Like we’ve done all year long, we’ve got to rally around it. Other people have to raise their level and step into an opportunity maybe that they didn’t have before.”

Mueller needed assistance getting off the ice last night after being hit into the boards by San Jose defenseman Rob Blake in Colorado’s offensive zone. The forward lay prone on the ice for several minutes before being helped off by Avalanche trainer Matt Sokolowski. No penalty was called on the play.

“I thought he was in a vulnerable position,” added Sacco. “The league will review all these kinds of incidents.”

Sacco said he has yet to decide who will take Mueller’s spot alongside Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk during the road swing.

Jones Continues Progress
The only other Avalanche player currently on the sidelines is forward David Jones.

While pinpointing an exact recovery timetable from ACL surgery is a largely unpredictable matter, it seems Jones is getting closer and closer to a return.

The Avalanche forward keeps hitting benchmarks in his recovery. After hitting the ice for the first time approximately two weeks ago, Jones began skating in a non-contact manner earlier this week. Today, the winger shed his orange non-contact jersey, but took very minimal contact in practice.

Jones suffered the knee injury just over four months ago during a Nov. 28 contest against Minnesota, and was originally given a timeline of 4-to-6 months for a return. Sacco said Jones will accompany the team on the road trip to continue his rehabilitation process, but is very unlikely to play.

“He has a chance to be practicing with us full-contact soon,” said Sacco. “He’ll be making the trip with us, which is encouraging, and he’s progressing very well.”

Playoff Scenarios
It seems so simple, but things could potentially get quite complicated as well. Colorado’s 5-4 overtime victory over San Jose last night – coupled with Calgary’s 4-1 loss to Chicago earlier in the day – brought the Avalanche one step closer to a playoff berth.

Colorado (91 points) has four games left on its docket, while Calgary (89 points) has just three. The Avalanche also holds a pair of all-important tiebreakers, currently possessing more victories (42 to Calgary’s 40) and owning the season series between the clubs.

If Calgary goes undefeated down the stretch (putting them at 95 points and 43 wins), the most simple way for the Avs to get into the playoffs would be to win two of their four remaining games (giving them 95 points and 44 wins).

If Calgary goes 2-1-0 (93 points, 42 victories), Colorado would need just one victory (93 points, 43 wins).

That being said, many factors could come into play when you consider overtime/shootout losses and their effect on the standings. But for now, the easiest answer to the question of “How can the Avs ensure a playoff berth?” is to pick up a pair of victories.

Still, Sacco is keeping his focus even more simple than that.

“Our focus will be on the game tomorrow night, and nothing else,” said Sacco. “Obviously if it happens, it would be great, but we have to focus on the process, not the big picture.”

Big Winner
Avalanche fans certainly left the building happy last night with the crucial victory over the Sharks, but the most excited fan leaving Pepsi Center was probably John S. Stewart.

Ten thousand dollars in your pocket will do that.

Stewart won $10,000 as part of The KeyBank Countdown when Paul Stastny scored 20 seconds into the third period.  This year-long contest, sponsored by KeyBank, gives one lucky contestant a chance to win $10,000 if one of the Avalanche players scores in the first 20 seconds of the third period. Stastny delivered, scoring the fastest goal to begin a period by an Avalanche player all season. It could not have come at a better time for Stewart, or the Avalanche for that matter.
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