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Practice Report: Waiting on Chicago

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
After a handful of players took part in an optional skate yesterday, the Avalanche took part in a full practice Thursday morning at Family Sports Center.

Colorado’s next challenge will come Friday night, when the club hosts the Chicago Blackhawks to wrap up a three-game homestand. The Avalanche has won its last four games at Pepsi Center and five of six overall in the Mile High City. To date, the Avs hold an 8-5-0 record at Pepsi Center this season.

The Avalanche currently sits ninth in the Western Conference with 29 points (14-13-1), just one point behind Nashville for the No. 8 spot in the conference. Meanwhile, Chicago occupies the No. 6 spot with 33 points (13-6-7).

“We saw them about a month ago and they have a lot of great, young talent,” said Ryan Smyth. “They’ve got Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and now they have Brian Campbell on the blue line. It’ll be a tough game, but also one full of speed and energy.”

One subplot of tomorrow’s game involves two people who will not even set foot on Pepsi Center ice. Former Avs coach Joel Quenneville will return to Pepsi Center for the first time as head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks to face Tony Granato and his Avalanche squad. Granato was an assistant under Quenneville for three years (2005-06 through 2007-08). The pair faced off earlier this season in the Windy City, with the Blackhawks earning a 6-2 victory on Nov. 3.

Practice Notes
Defenseman Adam Foote (upper back/knee) and forwards Ben Guite (ribs) and Darcy Tucker (knee) were all on the ice again this morning. Guite and Tucker took part in a few warm-ups before leaving the ice, while Foote participated in drills with his teammates. The defenseman should be cleared to play tomorrow.

Marek Svatos (back) is considered day-to-day, but won’t be available for Friday’s game against Chicago.

Dupuis Recalled
The Avalanche announced Thursday that the team has recalled forward Philippe Dupuis from the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League.  He will be available for Friday night’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks at Pepsi Center (7:00 p.m.)

Dupuis, 23, has recorded eight points (4g/4a) and a +3 plus/minus rating in 20 games with the Monsters this season.

Columbus’ fifth choice (104th overall) in the 2003 Entry Draft, Dupuis was acquired by the Avalanche along with Darcy Campbell in exchange for Mark Rycroft on Jan. 22, 2008.

Spreading Holiday Cheer
The Avalanche will continue a holiday tradition today when they make their annual visit to The Children’s Hospital in order to bring smiles and holiday cheer to some very special young children. Every December, the players and coaches visit the patients at The Children’s Hospital to lift their spirits during the holiday season. The players and coaches will visit patient rooms, distribute Avalanche toys, sign autographs and take pictures with the children and their families.

Stay tuned to, as a photo gallery and video of the Avalanche’s visit to The Children’s Hospital will be posted in the coming days.
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