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This Week In Avalanche Hockey - March 25

by Brendan McNicholas / Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche opens a two-game homestand Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks at Pepsi Center. Colorado will host Vancouver on Friday night before heading to Anaheim to face the Ducks again on Sunday.  The Avalanche is 0-3-1 in its last four games after going 3-1-0 in its previous four contests.

Don’t miss your chance to see Chris Pronger and the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, followed by Roberto Luongo and the Vancouver Canucks on Friday night.

Date Opponent Time (MT) TV/Radio
Wed, March 25 ANAHEIM 7:00 p.m. Altitude HD / 101.5 FM
Fri, March 27 VANCOUVER 7:00 p.m. Altitude 2 / AM 1510
Sun, March 29 at Anaheim 6:00 p.m. Altitude / AM 1510


The Avalanche will face the Ducks twice this week, hosting Anaheim on Wednesday night at Pepsi Center and traveling to Southern California for a Sunday evening matchup at the Honda Center.  Sunday’s game will close out the season series between the Avalanche and Ducks in 2008-09. The Ducks are right in the thick of the playoff race, having won four straight and five of their last six heading into Wednesday’s contest against the Avalanche. Anaheim’s 2-1 shootout victory Tuesday in Nashville moved the Ducks into eighth place in the Western Conference. The Ducks have won each of the first two meetings against the Avalanche this year, prevailing 4-1 on Nov. 24 at the Honda Center and 4-3 on Jan. 31 in Denver. The Avs still lead the all-time series 29-14-7-6, including a 16-7-4-1 mark at home. The Ducks are led offensively by Ryan Getzlaf, who ranks among the league leaders in assists (54) and points (77), and Bobby Ryan, who is tied for first among NHL rookies with 24 goals. Anaheim (40) and Colorado (38) rank 1-2 in the NHL in one-goal games this season.

Beginning Friday, the Avalanche and Canucks will meet three times over the final 17 days of the regular season. The Avalanche had won eight straight over the Canucks prior to dropping the last meeting 4-2 on March 15 at GM Place. That was Vancouver’s first victory over Colorado since Nov. 9, 2007.  The Avs are 2-1-0 against the Canucks this season, 1-0 at home. The Avalanche/Nordiques are 62-40-15-4 all-time against the Canucks, which includes a 46-19-7-4 mark since moving to Denver. The Canucks have been one of the NHL’s hottest teams down the stretch, posting a league-best 17-4-1 record since February 1st. Vancouver has won 11 straight on home ice but had gone winless in four straight road contests prior to beating Dallas on Tuesday.  The Canucks are not only battling Chicago for fourth place in the Western Conference (and the all-important home ice in the first round) but have also crept within three points of division-leading Calgary. Vancouver is led by goaltender Roberto Luongo, who despite missing 24 games with a groin injury is still on pace to top 30 wins for the fourth straight year.  He has won 144 games since 2005-06, the third highest total in the NHL behind Miikka Kiprusoff (163) and Martin Brodeur (150). Offensively, the Sedin twins Daniel (70 points) and Henrik (69 points) are leading the team in scoring. Mats Sundin was signed as a free agent on Dec. 18 and has nine goals and 12 assists in 31 games.

       BU defenseman Colby Cohen
The Avalanche will have six prospects competing in the 2009 NCAA Men's Ice Hockey Championship, which opens this weekend. Colorado has three players at Boston University, which is the No. 1 overall seed and will take on Ohio State in the Northeast Regional on Saturday in Manchester, N.H. (3:30 p.m. MT, ESPN2). Defense partners Colby Cohen (7g/21a) and Kevin Shattenkirk (7g/19a) are two of the top scoring defensemen in the Hockey East, while forward Brandon Yip ranks fourth on the Terriers in points (19g/20a). Brad Malone and the North Dakota Fighting Sioux are the No. 2 seed in the Northeast and will face New Hampshire prior to the BU game at 12:00 p.m. MT (ESPN2). Malone has tallied15 points (4g/11a) and 73 PIM in 40 games. Forward Justin Mercier is a senior at Miami (Ohio) University, which is the fourth seed in the West Regional and will face the top seeded Denver Pioneers on Friday at 3:30 p.m. MT (ESPN2). Mercier is fourth on the RedHawks with 26 points (11g/15a) in 36 contests. Goaltender Billy Sauer plays for the University of Michigan, which is the top seed in the East Regional and faces Air Force on Friday in Bridgeport, Conn. (1:00 p.m. MT, ESPNU). Sauer has posted a 2.02 GAA in 13 appearances.

Read more about the NCAA’s, as well as an update on Cameron Gaunce and the major junior playoffs in this week’s farm report.

Click here for a printable 2009 NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament bracket

Click here for ESPN’s complete TV listings to find out which channel is carrying the college hockey game of your choice this weekend

Please join us this Monday night (March 30) for the only event in town where you can rub elbows with players and coaches of the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, Colorado Mammoth and Colorado Rapids on the Pepsi Center arena floor. Click here for more information.

This past Friday, Colorado Avalanche players Brett Clark and Derek Peltier hosted students from Iron Horse Elementary School to teach the basics of ice skating as part of the Break the Ice program. Check out a video from the event.

T.J. Galiardi played his first NHL game on March 19, becoming the seventh Avalanche player to make his NHL debut this year. The last time the Avs had seven or more players make their NHL debut in one season was 1998-99, when there were eight. Joining Galiardi on this year's list are Philippe Dupuis, Chris Durno, Matt Hendricks, Derek Peltier, Chris Stewart and Mike Vernace. Check out Craig Stancher’s feature on how Colorado’s long list of injuries this season has opened the door for new opportunities.

Avalanche center Wojtek Wolski takes a quick minute to discuss some of his favorite things away from the rink. Wolski touched on his favorite movie, the best pre-game meal and the age when he first put on skates.

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