Avalanche forward Paul Stastny
was right alongside the rest of the Avalanche on Thursday morning as the team skated at Family Sports Center. However, the third-year pro will not be available on Friday when Colorado takes on the Washington Capitals.
“Paul, in practice, looks great. He will play hopefully on this road trip; he won’t play tomorrow in Washington,” said Avalanche head coach Tony Granato
. “He had a full practice today and we’ll see how it goes as we move along on this trip.”
Stastny was upbeat following Thursday’s skate, saying that he’s very close to returning to game action.
“I’m excited to be back and practicing with the guys. Every day it’s getting better and better,” said Stastny. “I don’t know what the timetable is, but hopefully soon.
“I’m not going to rush back and have further setbacks, so I’m going to wait until I’m comfortable on both ends of the ice, offensively and defensively,” Stastny added. “I’m confident that I’ll be back on this road trip, I just don’t know what game yet.”
In related news, Granato said that when Stastny does return to the lineup, Wojtek Wolski will continue to play the center position.Jones, Cumiskey Done For Season
The Avalanche received some unfortunate news, as both forward David Jones
and defenseman Kyle Cumiskey will be out for the remainder of the season following surgeries on their injured shoulders.
Jones suffered his injury on Jan. 27 vs. San Jose, while Cumiskey was hurt on his first shift on Jan. 29 vs. Toronto.
John-Michael Liles (wrist) was on the ice with the team this morning and participated in some drills wearing an orange non-contact jersey. Liles was injured in Colorado’s game against Detroit on Sunday, but could possibly join the club late on its road trip.Big Task Ahead
The Avalanche is faced with a big task in the next week and a half. Still very much in the hunt for a playoff position, the Avs will be temporarily leaving the friendly confines of Pepsi Center to embark on a six-game, 11-day road trip.
The trip begins Friday against Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Green and the rest of the Capitals at Verizon Center. Washington is coming off a 4-3 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday evening – a game which saw Ovechkin score his league-leading 42nd goal of the season. The Moscow, Russia native also ranks second in the NHL with 75 points, trailing only Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin (82).
Stopping a dynamic player like Ovechkin won’t be easy, but the Avalanche has had some success recently keeping a few of the league’s most talented forwards in check.
“You know he’s very talented, like a (Pavel) Datsyuk or (Henrik) Zetterberg. You just have to limit his chances,” said defenseman Adam Foote. “You know he’s going to get his shots, but you have to try and keep him to the outside and not overplay him or go hard at him.”
Andrew Raycroft will start in goal for the Avalanche against Ovechkin and the Caps.Welcome to the World
Avalanche defenseman Jordan Leopold missed Thursday’s practice, but he definitely had a valid excuse for his absence. Leopold’s wife gave birth to the couple’s third child (a boy) on Wednesday night.
Leopold is expected to join his teammates in Washington for Friday’s game.