The Avalanche’s 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames Friday night was a tough blow, but it didn’t exactly signal the end of Colorado’s playoff hopes. Far from it, actually.
Calgary’s regulation victory pulled the Flames into a tie with the Avs for the eighth and final playoff spot with 89 points, but Colorado remains in the driver’s seat.
The Avalanche holds tie-breakers over the Flames by having more wins (41 to Calgary’s 40), winning the season series and – most importantly – having played one fewer game. The Flames have four contests remaining on their schedule, playing Chicago, San Jose, Minnesota and Vancouver, while Colorado still has five games left before the regular season concludes.
“We know we have to win if we want to get in,” said rookie forward T.J. Galiardi. “We can’t expect Calgary to lose because they’re hot right now. If we play our style of game tomorrow night I think we should be okay.”
On Sunday, the Avs will welcome the Western Conference-leading San Jose Sharks to Pepsi Center for a 6:00 p.m. tilt. The two clubs met just last Sunday, when the Sharks escaped with a 4-3 victory at HP Pavilion.
“I think we have even more in the tank to give than the last time we played them,” said Galiardi. “They had a few lucky goals the last time out. One went off my leg, one off Paul (Stastny’s) and one off (Ruslan) Salei’s. Those are the breaks of the game and hopefully we can get the breaks tomorrow night.”
Galiardi continued on, point out that the Avs can’t afford to sit back and let the breaks make themselves. Instead, he and his teammates need to stay aggressive against San Jose and get back to playing the kind of hockey they displayed before their recent slump.
“I think we have to be patient in our game, but still have that desperation. That’s kind of an oxymoron, but when we sit back and play passive it’s not our game. That’s when we get into trouble,” said Galiardi. “When we’re aggressive, forechecking and on our toes that’s when we get our chances.”Injury Updates
The Avalanche’s injury list is about as short as it has been all season. With forwards Brandon Yip and Stephane Yelle returning to Colorado’s lineup last night against Calgary, the only two players currently on the shelf are Matt Hendricks (head) and David Jones
Hendricks, who has missed the past two games, went through a full practice this morning, while Jones practiced with the team but did not take contact.Yip Talks Prospects
In case you missed it earlier today, the Colorado Avalanche signed prospects Kevin Shattenkirk and Colby Cohen to entry-level deals. Both defensemen will report to the Lake Erie Monsters and will finish the season on amateur tryout contracts. Their entry-level deals will kick in beginning with the 2010-11 campaign.
One Avalanche player already knows the duo quite well. Rookie forward Brandon Yip played two seasons of NCAA hockey alongside Shattenkirk and Cohen at Boston University.
After getting off the ice today, Yip said he was actually informed of the signings in the middle of practice when one of the Avalanche’s trainers gave him the news on the bench.
“I’ve been friends with them for a while since we joined together my junior year,” said Yip. “They came to BU and they made an impact right away. They’re both similar style players. They’re both pretty offensive, great on the power play, both have great hands and can shut down people when they need to.”