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O'Byrne Returns To The Ice

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Defenseman Ryan O’Byrne returned to the ice this morning, eight days after suffering a severe facial laceration in a scary incident against the Edmonton Oilers.

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O’Byrne skated before Thursday’s official practice (while wearing a full cage) and was put through a number of drills by Avalanche assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre.

The blueliner was injured approximately four minutes into Colorado’s Feb. 23 contest against Edmonton when the skate of rookie Taylor Hall shot up and hit him in the cheek. Despite bleeding profusely from a cut that would eventually require around 100 stitches to close, O’Byrne stayed on the ice for another 45 seconds to finish his shift before heading to the locker room (and eventually a local hospital).

The day after the injury, the Avalanche estimated that he would miss roughly 7-10 days. Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco didn’t address the media today, so there were no official updates regarding O’Byrne’s timeframe to either rejoin practice or return to game action. Sacco is expected to meet the media following Friday morning’s on-ice session.

Foote Says He’s Ready
Avalanche captain Adam Foote (leg) again joined practice today, and afterward he told the media that he will be in uniform Saturday when the Avalanche hosts the Oilers at Pepsi Center.

“It’s never fun watching, but it’s fun to be back in practice full-tilt,” said Foote. “It’s exciting. It never gets old. Now I just have to go out there, make sure I don’t try to do too much and be ready for anything.

“Whenever you’re not playing, whether you’re winning or losing, it’s tough,” added Foote. “We’ve been on a little bit of a skid, but I’m around the guys a lot and I keep telling them we have to keep supporting each other. It’s a lonely place when you lose and it’s a great place when you win.”

The veteran defenseman was with the team on its recent three-game California road trip and had hoped to play at some point before the club returned to Denver, but he wasn’t quite ready to join the lineup.

Foote last played on Feb. 7 against Phoenix before suffering the injury, which has now kept him sidelined for Colorado’s past 11 games.

Stastny Sees Positives
When you’re not winning games, sometimes you have to search long and hard to find encouraging signs. That hasn’t been the case with the Avs recently, according to assistant captain Paul Stastny.

Despite the fact that the team is going through a difficult stretch of games, Stastny points out that the Avs’ compete level has been in the right spot over the past few contests.

“The way we’ve been playing the last few games, I think it’s been a positive for us. Sometimes, whether it’s a post at the end of the game or a post in the shootout, we’re getting close,” said Stastny. “The compete level, every guy kind of playing for each other, I think has been there. That’s the most important thing to get out of this thing.”

Stastny wasn’t speaking hypothetically about having tough luck with posts. On Sunday, Milan Hejduk’s wrist shot from a tough angle beat Dan Ellis, but rang off the crossbar as time expired in a 3-2 loss to Anaheim. Two nights later, Matt Duchene appeared to have San Jose netminder Antti Niemi beat with a move in the shootout, only to see his backhand attempt clang off the post in Colorado’s eventual 2-1 loss.

Tough breaks, sure, but Stastny notes in a situation like this you can’t get too down on yourself or, on the other end of the spectrum, just assume those bounces will go your way the next time around.
It all boils down to accountability.

“Whether you’re coming close, whether you’re not playing well or whether it’s a couple bounces here and there, I think it’s tough sometimes,” he said. “It’s been like that for a while. You can’t hang your head. I think you just have to stay positive and work hard to get out of it.”
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