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Practice Report: Smyth Set to Return

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Five straight home victories. Wins in eight of its last nine contests. A 17-2-2 combined record during March over the last two seasons.

The numbers are quite impressive.

The Colorado Avalanche has used its recent surge to reclaim the top spot in the Northwest Division and grab the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

In fact, since Jan. 12, the Avalanche has recorded the second-most points in the NHL, gathering 37 points (17-9-3) in 29 games. Only the New York Rangers (38) have more during that span. The Avs also hold the fifth-highest points percentage (.638) in the league during that time frame.

“Since the trades, there’s been a really good feeling in the locker room,” said Avalanche assistant captain Andrew Brunette, touching on the team’s success since the NHL’s trade deadline. “We’re playing with a lot of energy and everybody’s excited about where we’re going here.”

A big key to Colorado’s success has been the club’s record at Pepsi Center. The Avalanche has picked up 50 points in 37 games in the Mile High City, posting the third-best home record in the league at 24-11-2.

The Avs have five remaining home games on the schedule – including Saturday afternoon’s tilt against the New Jersey Devils (1:00 p.m./Altitude) – and five on the road, where the team has played very well as of late.

After losing their first four road games of the season, the Avs have posted a 16-12-4 record in their last 32 away from Pepsi Center – including a 10-4-1 mark in the last 15 games.

Colorado will also get a boost from forward Ryan Smyth (concussion/minor shoulder separation), who is expected to make his return to the lineup against New Jersey after missing the previous six games.

Avalanche head coach Joel Quenneville stated that Peter Forsberg is doubtful for tomorrow's game.

Going Bald for a Cause
When the Avalanche takes the ice Saturday, fans might have a hard time recognizing some of their favorite players.

As part of “St. Baldrick’s Day” several members of the Avalanche decided to shave their heads to help raise awareness and funds to cure children’s cancer.

Events are going around all over Denver today – including at Fado’s Irish Pub, where Ian Laperriere, Ben Guite, John-Michael Liles and assistant coach Tony Granato had the clippers taken to them this morning.

Several other members planned on shaving their heads this afternoon at an event put together by Scott Parker. Those on the lineup included Andrew Brunette, Kyle Cumiskey, Jeff Finger, Cody McLeod, Cody McCormick, Kurt Sauer and Wojtek Wolski.

“It’s something special going on around town today. We’ve known about it for a couple of months and decided to get in on it,” said a freshly shaved Laperriere, who went on to poke fun at some of his teammates. “Most of the guys who can grow their hair back are doing it, but the guys who are going bald don’t want to do it because they’re afraid it might not grow back.”

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