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Practice Report: Smyth, Sakic Skating

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
After a successful two-game road swing that saw the club earn victories over San Jose and Vancouver, the Colorado Avalanche returns home to face the Anaheim Ducks and St. Louis Blues this week.

Lately, the Avs have been bolstered by the play of their centers, including Tyler Arnason, T.J. Hensick, Ben Guite and Jaroslav Hlinka. In the past four games, the Avalanche’s pivots have combined for 21 points (11g/10a). Not coincidentally, Colorado has posted a 3-0-1 record during that span.

“Everyone is going out there and doing their job,” said Arnason. “I think I’ve been playing fairly well. I try to play the same every game and the puck is starting to go in a bit, so it’s going well.”

Arnason has provided the most impressive performance over that stretch, averaging two points per game (2g/6a) in his last four outings.

That kind of play has become common for the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, native since returning on Jan. 9 from a wrist injury that sidelined him for 12 games. With 10 points (3g/7a) in 30 games prior to the injury, Arnason has totaled 16 points (4g/12a) in 12 contests since his return to the lineup.

On the Injury Front
It was a welcome sight Monday for Avs fans, as Ryan Smyth, Paul Stastny and Avalanche captain Joe Sakic were all on the ice.

Sakic went through a light skate prior to Colorado’s practice, while Smyth and Stastny participated in the team’s practice and took contact. Needless to say, their teammates were happy to see all three players skating.

“I think everybody touched the ice today and it was good to see,” said Avalanche assistant captain Ian Laperriere. “He [Smyth] looked exactly the way he looked before he hurt himself. It’s a great sign for us.”

Stastny is questionable for tomorrow’s game against Anaheim, while Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville said that Smyth might return before the team leaves Denver for its game against Chicago on Sunday.

“Ryan did the whole practice and he looked good,” said Quenneville. “We’ve got a couple of days, so we’ll see how he does. There’s a chance he might play on this homestand.”

Quenneville also stated that Sakic will continue to increase his time on the ice over the next few days and should soon be inserted into practices.

“He looked good out there,” said Quenneville. “All these guys can help us down the road, and the road is not that far away.”
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