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Practice Report: Svatos Gaining Steam

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche won’t have to wait long to get another crack at the Calgary Flames. Following a 4-1 loss to its Northwest Division rival on Tuesday, the Avalanche hit the ice at Family Sports Center this afternoon in preparation for Thursday’s rematch at Pepsi Center.

This will be the Flames’ first visit to Pepsi Center this season, with the others coming on Jan. 18 and Feb. 2. Yesterday’s game marked the Avalanche’s last visit to Pengrowth Saddledome this season.

The short turnaround between meetings could work in the Avalanche’s favor, especially with Thursday’s game being played on Colorado’s home ice.

“We didn’t play very well yesterday. They were able to do whatever they wanted,” said forward Marek Svatos. “We have to do the simple things better. Everybody has to be in the right position, and we need to win this game. We’ll definitely be ready to play.”

Svatos is starting to find his rhythm after a somewhat slow start to the year. The right wing scored Colorado’s lone goal in regulation and added the shootout winner last Wednesday in Vancouver before tallying again on Tuesday in Calgary.

For a goal scorer like Svatos, who is coming off a season-ending knee injury suffered last March, regaining some self-assurance can be the biggest key to success.

“I think it’s about confidence. It was a pretty big surgery and it’s still in the back of my mind, but I’m just trying to play my game now,” said Svatos. “I feel much better than I did a few games back, so now hopefully I can start scoring some more goals.”

Sakic on the Ice
Avalanche captain Joe Sakic was on the ice with the team this afternoon. Sporting an orange non-contact jersey, Sakic skated with his teammates for nearly half an hour.

“He won’t play tomorrow, but he’ll go on the road trip,” said Avalanche head coach Tony Granato. “He skated a few days on his own, and today obviously it was good to get him in part of a practice. He’s improving, so that gives us some optimism that he’s not too far down the road.”

Sakic has missed the Avalanche’s past three games and four of the last five with the injury. While he’s anxious to get back in the lineup, Sakic won’t rush himself back into action before he’s completely healthy.

“It’s frustrating because I missed half of last year,” said Sakic. “I was hoping to have a full 82 games, but the way it’s going, it shouldn’t be too much longer. I’m feeling better on the ice, and hopefully I’ll be back really soon.”

Ben Guite (ribs) also practiced today, wearing a non-contact jersey of his own. Granato also ruled out Guite for tomorrow’s game, but said the center should join the Avalanche on its upcoming road trip.

PK Coming Through
One bright spot for the Avalanche of late has been the club’s penalty-killing prowess.

The Avalanche successfully killed seven of Calgary’s eight power play chances on Tuesday, allowing only a late goal by David Moss. In its last four-plus games (dating back to second period of the club’s Nov. 6 contest against Minnesota), Colorado has thwarted 23-of-25 (92.0%) of the opposition’s power play opportunities.

The Avs currently own the NHL’s 11th best penalty kill percentage at home, posting an 85.2% (23-of-27) success rate.
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