CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy said Thursday that center Paul Stastny is still day-to-day with a back injury and is doubtful to play in Friday's game against the Anaheim Ducks.
Stastny hurt his back during the first minute of Saturday's game against the St. Louis Blues and has missed Colorado's last two contests. Roy has had to adjust his lines a bit in Stastny's absence, but the Avs haven't really missed a beat as the team has won both games that the veteran forward has been out.
"I would be very surprised," Roy said if Stastny would play against the Ducks. "The way the team is playing there is no need to rush him. It's not that we have to push on him right now. I think it gives him a chance to comeback 100 percent. Just want to make sure that his back is perfect when he comes back and no setbacks after that."
Stastny was one of the hottest players on the team before he got injured, as he had points in six of his previous nine games and eight points overall (four goals, four assists). After losing Stastny on the first shift and being forced to play with a shortened bench against league-leading St. Louis, Colorado played well in a tight, back-and-forth game that it eventually lost 2-1.
Center - COL
Goals: 20 | Assists: 27 | Pts: 47
Shots: 115 | +/-: 10
The Avs enter Friday's game on a two-game winning streak after picking up victories against Winnipeg on Monday and Chicago on Wednesday. The quality wins in the last two games has given Roy confidence that the team doesn't have to rush Stastny back and can be patient in his return to the lineup.
"I think we need to be smart, and the way everybody is playing certainly allows us to take our time," Roy said. "We don’t feel the pressure to push on him as well. I think it’s a perfect situation right now for us."
The Avalanche will likely go with a similar lineup as it had against the Blackhawks, meaning Paul Carey and Brad Malone will play in their second consecutive games since being recalled late Monday night from Lake Erie. Carey and Malone were called up after PA Parenteau injured his knee (out 4-6 weeks) against the Jets, and both forwards had solid outings against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Carey and Malone played on the fourth line with Patrick Bordeleau, and the newcomers were on the ice for the Avs' first goal against Chicago. Malone scored the goal, the second of his career, on a tough-angle shot from the left side late in the first period, and Carey, who was making his NHL debut, was the first player to congratulate him afterward.
Friday's game will mark the second of three games between the Avalanche and the Ducks, and the first meeting since opening night on Oct. 2. The teams will close out the regular season in Anaheim on April 13.
Colorado won the first game 6-1, but things quickly escalated at the end of the season opener after rookie Nathan MacKinnon was hit on what Roy thought should have been a kneeing penalty. A scuffle by the players ensued in front of the teams' benches, and Roy and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau eventually traded some heated words. Roy went on to push the partition that separates the benches toward Boudreau, and he was later fined $10,000 by the league for his actions.
Looking back at the incident Thursday at Family Sports Center, Roy viewed that situation favorably as it helped bring the team together. The Avs went on to begin the season with a 14-2-0 record.
"When that thing happened, it was an opportunity for me to show that I was with [the players]. It's nice to say it in front of [the media], 'I'm a partner with the players,' but if you never show it, how could they believe you," Roy said. "Fortunately for me I had an opportunity to show them that I was with them. It cost me 10 grand, but it's okay. It was probably a good investment in some ways."
Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net for the Avs. He is coming off a 37-save performance against the Blackhawks that marked the 100th win of his NHL career.
Roy has said Varlamov will also start Sunday at Ottawa, while Jean-Sebastien Giguere will play on Tuesday at Montreal. On his weekly radio show on FM 104.3 The Fan in Denver on Thursday morning, Roy said new backup goalie Reto Berra will make his first start with the Avalanche on Wednesday in Winnipeg.
Projected Lineup vs. Anaheim
O'Reilly – Duchene – McGinn
Landeskog – Mitchell – MacKinnon
McLeod – Cliche – Talbot
Bordeleau – Malone – Carey
Hejda – Johnson
Guenin – Barrie
Holden – Benoit