For all the big games during the stretch run of the regular season that seemed so crucial at the time, tomorrow’s contest at Pepsi Center is the Colorado Avalanche’s first true “must-win” game of the year.
The stakes couldn’t be any more straightforward. Win and they will force a Game Seven with the San Jose Sharks on Monday night at HP Pavilion. Lose and their run in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs comes to an abrupt end.
“Tomorrow night’s huge for us. It’s do or die,” said Avalanche rookie Matt Duchene
. “Every time we’ve had a tough game we’ve rebounded well. We know we’re capable of rebounding. To get a win tomorrow night and send it back to San Jose, I think the ball would be in our court.”
There was some encouraging news coming out of practice, as Duchene’s linemate, Peter Mueller
, has been upgraded from “out indefinitely” to “doubtful” for Saturday’s game against the Sharks.
In a change of pace, the Avs held media availability prior to their optional skate today, so when Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco provided an update, he hadn’t yet seen Mueller hit the ice.
“Mueller is going to skate on his own this morning,” said Sacco. “I would say he’s doubtful for tomorrow night.”
At this point, “doubtful” is good news for both the Avs and Mueller, who has been out since April 4 due to a concussion. It was originally hoped that the forward, who went through some light drills with a dozen or so teammates during today’s practice, would be available for most of Colorado’s first-round series against San Jose.
In 15 regular season games after coming over from Phoenix at the trade deadline, Mueller totaled 20 points (9g/11a).Other Injury UpdatesMilan Hejduk
will not be available for Game Six, and Sacco said the veteran’s status has been changed to out indefinitely with the upper-body injury he suffered during Game Three on Sunday. As recently as Wednesday, Sacco had said he was hopeful that the winger would be able to return at some point during the Western Conference Quarterfinals. That no longer appears likely.
Sacco also noted that David Jones
, out since late November with a knee injury, will not be available for Game Six.Short Memory
The Avalanche isn’t concerned with the odds that are against them in their attempt to come back from a 3-2 deficit to win the series and advance to the Western Conference Semifinals. At this point in the season, says defenseman John-Michael Liles, you have to quickly put bad losses behind you if you hope to be successful and extend your postseason run.
“You’ve kind of got to go through the playoffs with a short memory. Idon’t think we played as well as we wanted to last night. You have to give them credit. They played the game they needed to, and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow night.”