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This Week In Avalanche Hockey - Dec. 31

by Brendan McNicholas / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche takes to the road for a New Year’s Eve matchup against the Phoenix Coyotes to kick off the week. The Avs enter the contest having won three straight and four of their last five. Colorado also comes into the week three games above .500 for the first time this season and is 8-4-1 in the month of December –  the club’s first winning month of the 2008-09 campaign. In fact, with a victory against Phoenix, Colorado would have its most wins in December since 2001-02 (9-3-3-0).

After their contest against Phoenix, the Avs will return home to host the Columbus Blue Jackets (Jan. 2) and Minnesota Wild (Jan. 4). The squad has won seven of its last eight and eight of its past 10 on home ice.

Colorado will wrap up the week with a Jan. 6 contest in Nashville.

Don’t miss your chance to see Columbus’ Rick Nash and Minnesota’s Brent Burns and Marian Gaborik up close and in person at Pepsi Center!

Date Opponent Time (MT) TV/Radio
Wed, Dec. 31 at Phoenix 6:00 p.m. Altitude / AM 1510
Fri, Jan. 2 COLUMBUS 7:00 p.m. Altitude / AM 1510
Sun, Jan. 4 MINNESOTA 6:00 p.m. Altitude / NHL Network / AM 1510
Tue, Jan. 6 at Nashville 6:00 p.m. Altitude / AM 1510

The Avalanche and Coyotes are facing off on New Year's Eve for the second straight season and third time in the last four years, with Colorado holding a 1-0-1 mark in those previous two matchups. Overall, the Avalanche is playing on New Year's Eve for the seventh time since moving to Denver and 16th time in franchise history. The Avs are 7-6-2 in their previous 15 New Year's dates but have won six of the past eight, including a 4-1-1 mark since moving to Colorado.

Date                         Opponent                      Result
Dec. 31, 1983         at Montreal                   L, 2-4
Dec. 31, 1984         at Montreal                   T, 4-4
Dec. 31, 1985         HARTFORD                 W, 5-1
Dec. 31, 1986         at Montreal                   L, 1-4
Dec. 31, 1987         at NY Rangers            L, 1-6
Dec. 31, 1988         at Toronto                    L, 1-6
Dec. 31, 1990         at NY Islanders           L, 3-6
Dec. 31, 1992         at Hartford                   W, 6-2
Dec. 31, 1993         at Pittsburgh               W, 5-4
Dec. 31, 1996         at Chicago                   W, 4-1
Dec. 31, 1997         NY ISLANDERS         W, 3-1
Dec. 31, 1998         NY RANGERS             L, 3-6
Dec. 31, 2003         at Calgary                    W, 2-1
Dec. 31, 2005         at Phoenix                   W, 5-2
Dec. 31, 2007         at Phoenix                   O, 3-4

Colorado is 13-0-0 when leading after two periods this season, joining the Anaheim Ducks (13-0-0) as the only two teams to win every game when leading after two periods this year.  Colorado has actually won its last 21 games when carrying a lead into the third period, the longest active streak in the league.

John-Michael Liles has picked up three consecutive multi-point games (3g/4a), equaling a franchise record for a defenseman. Liles himself accomplished the feat during the 2005-06 season, while Sandis Ozolinsh and Jeff Brown have also hit that mark. Liles has also scored a goal in each of his last three games, the longest goal streak of his NHL career.


  3 games       John-Michael Liles        Dec. 23, 2008 – present
  3 games       John-Michael Liles        Oct. 10-14, 2005
  3 games       Sandis Ozolinsh            Feb. 16-23, 1996
  3 games       Jeff Brown                       Nov. 12-19, 1988

Avalanche center Paul Stastny underwent surgery on Tuesday (Dec. 30)  to repair a fractured right forearm. The third-year center suffered the injury during Colorado’s 5-4 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday, Dec. 23. The Avs were killing a penalty late in the game when Stastny was struck by an Olli Jokinen shot.

Stastny’s surgery went well, and he is expected to miss 6-to-8 weeks.

Avalanche forwards Milan Hejduk and Ryan Smyth are both closing in on the same milestone. The linemates are each within striking distance of 300 career goals. Read more about their thoughts on the milestone.


“I think if you look back at my goals, there probably aren’t many that would make highlight reels. You have to pay a price sometimes, and that’s part of the game. That’s part of who I am and how I like to play.”

- Ryan Smyth, talking about his approach to the game as he closes in on 300 career goals

The 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship – one of the most prestigious hockey tournaments on the planet – is now underway, with Avalanche prospect and Boston University defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk representing Team USA. Prior to the event, sat down with current Avalanche players in a two-part piece to chat about their experiences at the World Juniors. Click here for part one, and here for part two.

Avalanche TV recently rolled out its newest edition of "Ask the Prospects." In this video feature, we asked Colorado's young prospects "What is the most memorable moment of your hockey career?"
Click here to watch their responses

Although some of Colorado's prospects are taking a little time off during the holiday season, there’s still plenty of action for the weekly Farm Report. Click here for the latest on all of the Avalanche’s young prospects, from Shattenkirk at the World Juniors to Cameron Gaunce, Kelsey Tessier and Joel Chouinard in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

The Colorado Avalanche brought smiles and holiday cheer to some very special children when the team made its annual holiday visit to The Children’s Hospital on Thursday, Dec. 11. Every December, the players and coaches visit the young patients at The Children’s Hospital in an effort to lift their spirits during the holiday season.

The players and coaches visited patient rooms, distributed Avalanche toys, signed autographs, took pictures with the children and their families and, most importantly, talked with the kids to help brighten their day.

Click here to watch a video of the Avalanche spreading holiday cheer and here to view a photo gallery from the event

Buy the Avalanche Holiday Gift Pack and get the chance to see not only four great games, but also obtain a FREE authentic Paul Stastny signed puck, FREE Avalanche Team Flag
and Avalanche Playoff Ticket Priority.

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