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This Week In Avalanche Hockey - Nov. 24

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche

WEEK OF NOV. 24-30
All Times Mountain

Wed, Nov. 24 @ Vancouver (8:00 p.m.)
Thu, Nov. 25 @ Edmonton (7:00 p.m.)
Sat, Nov. 27 vs. Minnesota (7:00 p.m.)
Tue, Nov. 30 vs. Atlanta (8:00 p.m.)

They Said It...

 “I hope so, I definitely hope so. Somebody told me the other day that 30 is the new 40, and I really didn’t want to hear that.”

-John-Michael Liles, who turns 30 years old on Thursday, when asked if 30 is the new 20.

Photo of the Week

Stat Of The Week

The Avalanche will be playing on Thanksgiving for only the third time since the franchise moved from Quebec to Denver in 1995.  The last time the Avs played on Thanksgiving was also in Edmonton, when they beat the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 22, 2007 at Rexall Place.  The Avalanche won its only other Thanksgiving game as well, defeating Calgary 6-5 in overtime on Nov. 27, 2003 at the Saddledome.

Avalanche All-Access

This week on Avalanche All Access, Kyle Keefe and Julie Browman are joined by Milan Hejduk and his twin boys at the Denver Zoo.  The group takes an exclusive tour of the zoo, and they get some hands-on treatment with the animals.  Also, Paul Stastny talks about his transition from wood to graphite sticks, and Mike Haynes chats with head coach Joe Sacco.

Having just finished up a stretch of six games in nine days, the Avalanche will be busy again this week. Colorado plays three games within a four-day span, all of which will be against Northwest Division opponents.

Colorado begins a big stretch of divisional games with a Wednesday night contest in Vancouver. The Avs currently sit two points ahead of the Canucks in the division standings. This will be the third meeting between the teams this season, with Vancouver earning victories in each of the first two. The Canucks took a 4-3 overtime decision on Oct. 26 in Vancouver and then won by a 3-1 score on Nov. 4 at Pepsi Center.

The very next night, Colorado and Edmonton will square off for the first of six times this season. Colorado won the season series last year, going 3-2-1 against the Oilers (the Avs earned seven points to the Oilers’ six). As a side note, the Avalanche is 3-1 in the first half of back-to-back games this season and 2-2 in the second half.

The Avs then return home for a Saturday tilt against the Minnesota Wild to wrap up its three-game divisional run. Much like with the Oilers, this game will mark the first meeting of the season between the Northwest foes. Colorado went 1-3-2 against Minnesota a season ago, but five of the six meetings were decided by one goal.

Finally, after two days off Colorado will host the Atlanta Thrashers at Pepsi Center. The last time these two clubs met, Kyle Cumiskey scored nine seconds into overtime to give the Avs a 4-3 victory on Feb. 10, 2010 at Pepsi Center. The Avs and Thrashers will square off again on Dec. 10 in Atlanta.

-Rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is certainly making a firm case to stay in Denver, even though most of the Avalanche’s veteran blueliners have returned from injury.

Recalled from Lake Erie on Nov. 3 due to an injury siege in Colorado, Shattenkirk has skated in all nine games since then and has recorded two goals and three assists while averaging 20:01 of ice time. That came after he was held pointless in 10 games with the Monsters to begin the season. The blueliner admitted that his lack of production on the offensive end was weighing heavily on his mind.

“It does a lot just knowing that bounces are starting to go my way,” said Shattenkirk. “It makes you feel a lot more comfortable on the ice. It was definitely something weighing on my mind throughout the whole season. Now that it’s out of my mind it makes me a little easier going on the ice.”

One of Shattenkirk’s strengths is his vision, and that was no more apparent than in last Saturday’s game against Dallas. The rookie twice threaded passes to veteran winger Milan Hejduk for backdoor tap-ins.

“With the other four guys on the power play, the way they move the puck around, it opens up a lot of seams,” said Shattenkirk.  “It’s a collective effort in making those passes, and Hedgie does a great job in finding those lanes to get open. I know when I’m giving it to him he’s probably putting it in the net.”

If he makes a few more of those seeing-eye passes that lead directly to Avalanche goals, he might be looking at a long-term stay in the Mile High City.

IV. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT recently posted an article detailing Milan Hejduk’s consistent effort. The forward has been one of the hottest players in the league over the past month, but his production has flown somewhat under the radar.

-Be sure to check out the latest “Avalanche Mailbag,” where Colorado’s players respond to fan questions. This week’s edition features answers by Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Peter Budaj and more.

-Craig Anderson wasn’t perfect in his return from injury, but he was pretty close. After being sidelined for three and a half weeks due to a knee injury, Anderson made 25 stops in his first game back as the Avalanche cruised to a 5-1 win last Friday over the New York Rangers.

-We caught up with Kevin Porter, who is the subject of our first “Five Quick Questions” feature of the season.

-With most teams at or near the quarter pole of their seasons, put together some of the top goals and saves so far this year

-Don’t forget to vote for your favorite Avalanche players in the 2011 NHL All-Star Balloting. Fans can pick up to three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie, regardless of conference.

-Derek Jory of posted an interesting read on former Vancouver netminder and current Avalanche goaltending consultant Kirk McLean.

-The Annual “Do What You Can Canned Food Drive” brought in over $7,500 in cash and nearly one ton of food prior to Colorado’s Nov. 17 game against San Jose.

-On Nov. 22, Adam Foote and Milan Hejduk visited with homeless teenagers served by Urban Peak Shelter. View photos from the event here.

-Also, Avalanche players David Van Der Gulik, David Koci and Kevin Shattenkirk recently hosted a Team Fit event at Elway’s.

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