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Practice Report: 10/11/07

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche is at the tail end of one of the team’s longest breaks of the season. After a 6-2 victory over San Jose on Sunday, the club finally takes to the ice again on Friday when it travels to St. Louis to face the Blues.

Colorado has only three other hiatuses of similar length during the course of the 2007-08 campaign, one of which comes during the All-Star break in late January.

The extended break between actual games brings up a question: Is a long gap early in the season beneficial or detrimental to a team?

An argument could easily be made for either case. On one hand, an early break gives the club a few extra days of practice to work out any minor flaws that may have surfaced during the first few games. Extra time to work on special teams and fine-tuning the team’s system is a luxury that many organizations often wish they had.

On the other hand, if a team is starting to find their groove on the ice, the break may be seen as a negative, since the players may be in danger of losing any momentum built during the season’s opening weeks.

Avalanche Head Coach Joel Quenneville, for one, realizes that it’s all part of the game and welcomes the extra time to work with his team.

“It really gives you a chance to reinforce your team game and visit all areas so you’re sharp,” said Quenneville. “Everybody knows system-wise that everything’s nailed down. We know what to do and know what to expect on both sides of the puck.”

Theodore to Start Friday
Quenneville also stated following Thursday’s practice that Jose Theodore will get the starting nod for Friday’s game at St. Louis – the first game of back-to-back contests for the Avalanche this weekend.

Theodore, who had minor offseason knee surgery, started the season opener for the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters on Saturday while finishing his rehabilitation and stopped 21-of-24 shots. Quenneville reported that the Avalanche staff was very pleased with his performance and effort in Cleveland.

Now, Theodore will test his knee against NHL competition for the first time this season.

“He’s practiced really well and looked sharp.” said Quennville. “He’s anticipating getting in there and helping us out. We feel it’s a good opportunity to start him.”

More on Stastny
It’s no secret that Paul Stastny has started the season on a roll. After tallying eight points in his first three games – courtesy of a hat trick on opening night and a five-point effort on Sunday against the Sharks – the second-year center was named the NHL’s First Star of the Week.

But if those early-season numbers aren’t enough, plenty more evidence of his success can be found by digging a bit deeper.

Through Wednesday’s games, Stastny is tied atop the NHL’s leader board in shooting percentage with four goals on six shots (66.7%) through three games. Buffalo’s Jaroslav Spacek (two goals on three shots) also holds the same shooting percentage through two games.

Stastny also holds the top plus/minus rating in the league in home games, boasting an impressive +6 rating. In addition, he sits in a tie for second among league forwards with a +4 rating overall.

Loose Pucks
Defenseman Brett Clark is tied for seventh among NHL defenseman with a +3 rating…Fourteen Avalanche players have recorded at least one point through the season’s first three games. Last season, it took five games for as many Avs to get onto the score sheet…Andrew Brunette has three points (all assists) through the season’s first three games, a mark he didn’t reach until the eighth game of the 2006-07 campaign. A year ago, Brunette scored a pair of goals against Montreal on Oct. 21 to give him four points on the season en route to a career-best 83 point campaign.

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