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Rink Notes: Hejduk Expected To Play

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
When you think of the Columbus Blue Jackets, odds are the first player who comes to mind is Rick Nash. The explosive forward has been the face of Ohio-based franchise for the past seven years and again leads his club in scoring with 35 points (18g/17a) in 35 games this season.

Colorado is one of the few teams that has been able to hold Nash off the score sheet this season, leaving him without a point in the club’s 3-2 victory in Columbus on Dec. 5. Nash skated for 22:15 that game, posting a -2 plus/minus rating while having three of his shots blocked.

While the Avs don’t focus their defensive game plan around one player, they certainly will be cognizant of Nash’s presence tomorrow when they host the Blue Jackets at Pepsi Center.

“You just have to be more aware when he’s on,” said defenseman Kyle Quincey. “He’s got explosive speed. You can’t let him get a step on you because he’ll make that step three steps in a hurry. You just have to limit his time and space. I think we did a good job of that in Columbus.”

Through Thursday’s games, Columbus has allowed 121 goals, the second-most in the NHL (Toronto – 122). But the Blue Jackets also score at a high rate, having netted 101 goals this year (including 31 on the power play).

“They have a lot of offense this year,” said forward Wojtek Wolski. “When you have a lot of good offensive players like they do, you seem to get a lot going in the neutral zone. You get a lot of 3-on-2’s, but you’re also giving up a lot of 3-on-2’s. It seems to be working for them the past year or so.”

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Hejduk Should Return
Milan Hejduk (knee) should be back in the lineup Saturday against the Blue Jackets. The veteran forward practiced for the second consecutive day and Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco says he has responded well to the workload

“From all indications he’ll be good to go tomorrow night,” said Sacco. “He gives us more depth up front; he’s going to help our power play. He’s a guy that eats up a lot of minutes for us and he’s responsible defensively, so you can use him in different situations. Getting a guy like Milan back is always a positive.”

Sacco also said that Craig Anderson will start against Columbus, and he expects the netminder to bounce back after a subpar performance Tuesday against Washington.

“It’s a chance for us to respond,” said Sacco. “It’s a chance for Craig to get back in there. I know he’ll bounce back strong for us tomorrow night.”

Around The Rink
Much like yesterday, right wing Marek Svatos was on the ice prior to Friday’s practice. Svatos is still battling a groin injury he suffered on Dec. 11 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Anderson and Peter Budaj were also on the ice early this morning, working on positioning an puck-handling with Avalanche goaltending coach Jocelyn Thibault for 20 minutes before practice officially began.
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