Every game in the National Hockey League is important. Each contest against a divisional opponent is even more crucial.
While those common locker room mantras may sound a bit cliché, they ring true at the end of each season when a matter of a point or two can mean the difference between winning your division and coming in second, or making the playoffs versus just missing out.
Even though the Colorado Avalanche and Minnesota Wild are separated by 13 points (32-19) in the Northwest Division standings and Minnesota has won just once in its last six outings, the upcoming home-and-home series between the clubs will be viewed as a vital juncture by each side.
“Every game is big in this league and they’re going to be hungry,” said defenseman Kyle Quincey. “Hopefully we can use these two games to get back on track. If we can come out with four points we’ll feel really good about ourselves.”
The Avalanche still leads the Northwest Division by one point over the Calgary Flames. After a recent hot streak the Flames have cooled off somewhat recently, going 2-2-1 in their last five games.
Still, the general mindset in the Avs’ locker room is that the club needs to worry about itself, and things will fall into place after that.
“The past eight games we’ve kind of gotten away from our identity and we need to get that back. These games are huge for us,” added Quincey.Changing Things Up
While practice lines aren’t always indicative of the combinations that are actually used in the next game, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco
decided to shake things up during Thursday’s skate.
The gray line consisted of David Jones
and Milan Hejduk
flanking Paul Stastny
, while the white line was T.J. Galiardi centering Darcy Tucker and Marek Svatos. Wearing blue sweaters at today’s practice were Cody McLeod
, Ryan O’Reilly and Wojtek Wolski. Meanwhile, rookie Matt Duchene
was in a burgundy jersey, along with Chris Stewart, Matt Hendricks and David Koci.On The Injury Front
Defensemen Adam Foote and Kyle Cumiskey will not play Friday against the Wild. The Avalanche captain has missed the past four games with a jaw injury suffered on Nov. 17 at Calgary. Cumiskey (foot) missed his first game of the season Wednesday evening against the Nashville Predators.