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Practice Report: Series Shifts to Denver

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
After an off-day Sunday, the Colorado Avalanche returned to the ice Monday morning in preparation for Game Three of its Western Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings.

While the Avs dropped the first two contests of the series in Detroit, the setting now shifts to Pepsi Center, where the club has been nearly unbeatable in recent weeks. Since March 1st, Colorado has posted an 11-2 record in Denver. The Avs held a 9-1 mark at home to end the regular season before winning two-of-three at Pepsi Center against Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs.

“We don’t want to be down where we’re at right now, but we’re coming back home and we played well here down the stretch,” said Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville. “We still have a lot of belief in each other and our team. That’s our motivation going into the game. We have to play much better than we did on Saturday and get some energy out of the crowd and capture one game, which puts ourselves right back in the series.”

Avalanche captain Joe Sakic and his teammates didn’t hesitate to label Game Three a “must-win,” as the team tries to avoid falling into a 3-0 deficit in the series.

“We’ve been in series where we’ve been down 2-0 and come back and vice versa,” said Sakic. “It makes this Game Three so important for us. It’s a must-win for us to try and get back in the series.”

In goal once again for Tuesday’s contest will be Jose Theodore, who seems to be completely over the illness that plagued him during Game One.

“Having a day off and getting some food into you, you regain a lot of energy,” said Theodore. “I didn’t play the way I wanted to. I know I can play better. If we want to have a chance to win, I have to play better, it’s no secret.”

Peter Forsberg (groin) missed the first two games of the series but took part in a full practice Monday, with a decision on his status for Game Three to be made tomorrow. Forsberg, like Sakic, didn’t mince words about the importance of Tuesday’s contest.

“It’s definitely a must-win,” said Forsberg. “If we do, we’re back in the series. If we don’t, we’re in a big hole. I think everyone knows it’s a tough one coming up, but on the other hand we’re happy to be home. We just need to take it one at a time now. If we win this one, we’re back in it.”

Quenneville stated following today’s practice that there is a chance defenseman Scott Hannan (foot) may play Tuesday after sitting out Game Two.

Milan Hejduk, Ian Laperriere and Ryan Smyth also sat out today’s skate, but Quenneville labeled it a “maintenance day” for all three players.

“He’s definitely playing with a lot of confidence right now. If you look at his stats toward the end of the year, he had six game-winning goals or something like that in March, which is ridiculous. I don’t think I’ve had that in my career…We definitely have to find a way to shut him down and keep his chances and (Detroit’s) chances to a minimum.
-John-Michael Liles, on Detroit’s Johan Franzen, who has five goals in the first two games of the series.

“It’s not a best out of three; it’s a best out of seven. You could lose 5-0 or 2-1; you’re down two-zip. You just have to find a way to regroup and work on the next game.”
-Theodore, on the mindset the Avs have to keep heading into Game Three

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