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Spirits High In Colorado's Locker Room

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
As one might imagine, the Colorado Avalanche dressing room is a pretty upbeat place these days. With the club sitting atop the Northwest Division and having won five consecutive games, the atmosphere has been a jovial one lately.

The players are loose before, during and after practice. Following recent victories, the sounds of joyful yips and yelps have emanated from locker room. There always seems to be good-natured barbs flying back and forth in the dressing room. Those are all the signs of a young, energetic team that simply enjoys playing together.

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“We’re loose in here. We come to the rink and have fun every day,” said forward Chris Stewart. “We enjoy being around each other. I’d say it’s one of the closest teams I’ve ever played for.”

Experts and Armchair GMs alike often talk about the important role chemistry plays for professional sports teams, and that intangible can’t be overstated. A team that plays together wins together. When you have 23 guys in the locker room all buying into the system - as it appears is the case with the 2009-10 Avalanche – and those players genuinely enjoy spending time with each other both at the rink and off the ice, it makes the grinding 82-game NHL schedule that much easier.

“We have a young team so a lot of guys hang out with each other,” said rookie Matt Duchene. “Everybody gets along so well. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great team to be a part of. Great teams start in the locker room.”

With the team leading its division and riding a season-best winning streak, Colorado’s locker room is exuding confidence. But don’t confuse that self-assurance for cockiness. Even after winning five straight games, Vancouver and Calgary are still just a handful of points behind the Avalanche in the Northwest Division standings. And Colorado’s players are well aware of that fact.

“You just have to take it game-by-game and not get too high or too low, but we have fun playing with each other and that’s a big reason for our success,” said Stewart. “It just makes you want to work that much harder for the guy next to you and play harder for your team.”

Saturday’s Practice Notes
-Adam Foote (ankle), Ruslan Salei (back) and Marek Svatos (chest) all skated today, with Salei the only one wearing an orange non-contact jersey. All three players were on the ice early and took part in this morning’s practice.

-Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco used the same line combinations today as he did in Friday’s 2-1 win against Nashville.

-Sunday’s contest against Dallas will be the second meeting between the teams this season. Colorado won the previous matchup on Dec. 26 at Pepsi Center by a 4-1 count.

-Craig Anderson will make his sixth consecutive start tomorrow when the Avs host the Stars.
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