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Practice Report: Secondary Scoring

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
In the absence of two of the club’s most potent offensive threats – centers Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny – the Avalanche has taken more of a team approach to putting goals on the scoreboard recently.

Sunday’s 6-2 win against the Calgary Flames was significant for multiple reasons. First and foremost, it gave the Avalanche two points against a Northwest Division opponent. Second, the game saw forwards Ryan Smyth and Milan Hejduk etch a place in history when they both scored their 300th career goal in the same contest.

Finally, Colorado’s goals came from six different players, a welcome sight that continues a recent trend.

While the Avs’ top line of Smyth, Hejduk and Wojtek Wolski has been solid over the past few weeks, that secondary scoring has been vital in keeping Colorado in the playoff hunt.

The Avalanche has scored 10 times in its last three outings, with goals coming off the sticks of eight different players (only Hejduk and Cody McLeod have scored twice during that stretch).

“It takes a little pressure off our leading goal scorers and our top lines,” said Chris Stewart, who has two goals and two assists in his last four games. “On the nights when our top line can’t get going, you can count on the other lines for goals. It makes our team that much more dynamic to have those other offensive threats.”

McLeod has experienced a breakout year during his second season with the Avalanche. The winger’s 10 goals through 46 games place him in a tie for fourth on the club and far eclipse his four tallies in 49 games a season ago. McLeod has been especially hot of late, notching five points (3g/2a) in his last five outings.

“You try to set your goals high at the start of the year, but you get more ice time when guys go down with injuries,” said McLeod, explaining his career high in goals. “I’ve always gone to the net hard. They’re not always pretty goals, but they still count.”

Medical Updates
According to Avalanche head coach Tony Granato, none of his injured players will be returning Wednesday when Colorado hosts the Los Angeles Kings.

Veteran Adam Foote took part in a full practice today, but is still feeling some lingering effects from his injury. Foote hasn’t played since injuring his triceps muscle on Jan. 4 against Minnesota.

“I still felt it today when we did certain things. We’ll reevaluate it with the trainers and then we’ll see,” said Foote.

David Jones was on the ice this morning, but was once again wearing a non-contact Burgundy jersey. Jones last played Jan. 13 at Columbus, when he left the game in the second period with a back injury.

Ian Laperriere (back) did not skate today. The timetable for his return remains after the All-Star break.

Granato said that Peter Budaj will start in goal against the Kings, marking his second straight start.
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