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Practice Report: Back in Denver

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Holding a 3-2 advantage in their best-of-seven Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Minnesota Wild, the Colorado Avalanche can advance to the Western Conference Semifinal round with a victory Saturday in Game Six.

But exactly how important is it for Colorado to wrap up the series at Pepsi Center, thus not having to face the possibility of a seventh game in St. Paul?

“We have to find a way to close it out with a game here at home,” said Avalanche captain Joe Sakic. “You always like to play at home this time of year. We know how they’re going to play. They’re going to come out hard and try to play as well as they did last night.”

Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville said following Friday’s practice that he’s trying to duplicate the type of mindset Colorado had heading into Game Four earlier this week. That contest, which came only 24 hours after an overtime loss at Pepsi Center, ended in a 5-1 Colorado victory.

“It’s certainly a huge game,” said Quenneville. “Certainly, it was a huge win last night. Our approach is kind of like going into Game Four. We know we have to be better than the last game and we’re very fortunate to come out of it. We were in our end most of the second period and we know the start is critical. So we’re looking for a Game Four attitude and approach.”

It was announced today that Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in Minnesota (if necessary) will begin at 7:00 p.m. MT on Monday, April 21st.

Avalanche forwards Andrew Brunette and Wojtek Wolski have been two of the league’s top snipers in the postseason based on shooting percentage.

Brunette has needed only 11 shots to score his three goals (27.3%), while Wolski has a pair of goals on nine shots (22.2%). The percentages rank them both among the league’s top-15 in the playoffs.

Showing its scoring balance, Colorado is one of only three teams in the postseason to boast four players with at least five points. Brunette, Wolski, Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg have all hit that mark for the Avalanche through the first five games of the series.

Pittsburgh (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Malone and Marion Hossa) and San Jose (Ryane Clowe, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton) are the other clubs to possess the same type of balanced scoring.

“He’s so good with the puck down low. He’s strong with the puck. There’s not too many guys that can compare with him when he has the puck behind the goal line. He makes great plays. The guys in the dressing room know how valuable he is.”
Sakic, discussing Brunette’s value to the Avalanche

“They’re going to be desperate. That last win is the hardest to get. We just have to go back to basics and play smart. I thought we got away from that a little bit yesterday.”

Ben Guite, on how the Avs have to be prepared for a battle against Minnesota Saturday

“That’s how he’s played the whole year. He stole a couple of games for us, and obviously he stole that one (last night). In the second period we could have been down five or six goals, but for him to keep it tied, 1-1, we couldn’t ask for anything more out of him.”

-Paul Stastny, on Jose Theodore’s performance Thursday
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