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Rink Notes: Duchene Doesn't Practice

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche will try to improve to 6-0 at Pepsi Center when the club hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night (7:00 p.m./Altitude HD).

With a victory tomorrow, the Avs would match a team record for the most consecutive wins to open a season. Since the franchise moved to Denver prior to the 1995-96 season, only the 2007-08 squad has begun the season with a 6-0 mark at home.

Rookie forward Matt Duchene was held out of today’s practice due to a sore shoulder as a result of a hit he took during Wednesday night’s 4-1 win over Phoenix. After taking the hit in front of Colorado’s bench, Duchene fell awkwardly on the shoulder.

Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco said that he kept the rookie off the ice today as a precautionary measure and expects him to play tomorrow.

“We wanted to keep him off today to make sure we didn’t do anything further to it,” said Sacco. “He should be fine tomorrow night.”

In other injury news, Ruslan Salei (back) and Darcy Tucker (head) both skated before practice today. Tucker took part in practice on Tuesday while wearing an orange non-contact sweater but didn’t skate with the team on Thursday.

Shjon Podein Night
During Friday’s game against Chicago, the Avalanche will honor former player Shjon Podein as the third member of the Avalanche Alumni Association (joining Joe Sakic and Alexei Gusarov).

Podein will drop the ceremonial first puck and will also be presented with a painting representing his time with the Avalanche. The first 10,000 fans in attendance will receive a replica poster of the painting, but if you can’t get to Pepsi Center early, you can still bid on a special item from Podein’s night.

Through the first two periods of the game, the Avalanche will be auctioning off the giclee (a high-resolution, fine art print) of the Podein painting at section 144. The auction will benefit Kroenke Sports Charities.

The Other Side
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews could be back in the lineup when the Blackhawks come to Denver. Toews suffered an upper-body injury on Oct. 21 versus Vancouver and has missed the club’s past four games.

The third-year center practiced on Wednesday for the first time since the injury, and both he and Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville hinted that he will likely be back in the lineup very soon. But whether that means Chicago’s game in Phoenix on Thursday night, the contest in Denver on Friday or some other point in the near future remains unclear.

Something’s Gotta Give
A big reason behind the Avalanche’s success this season has been the club’s improved penalty killing unit. Through Wednesday’s games, Colorado ranked third in the league with an 87.0% success rate on the penalty kill. Prior to giving up an Ed Jovanovski power-play goal on Wednesday night versus Phoenix, the Avs had killed off 25 consecutive penalties, the club’s longest streak since the 2001-02 campaign. Overall, Colorado has allowed only nine power-play goals in 69 short-handed situations this season.

On the other end of the spectrum, Chicago has netted five power-play goals in 17 chances on the road, good for a 29.4% success rate (the third-best road percentage in the league).
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