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Tuesday's Rink Notes

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
In the final stretch of the season, the Avs will face the task of playing seven games in 12 days, with five of those contests coming at home and the other two taking place in a back-to-back road set against Vancouver and Edmonton.

Colorado has a four-point edge over ninth place Calgary with a game in-hand, but the two clubs will also square off Friday in what might be the defining game of the 2009-10 season for each squad.

But first, the Avalanche will have to get by the Anaheim Ducks tomorrow night at Pepsi Center.  The Ducks have turned up their play lately by winning two straight and six of their past eight overall, but Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco knows his team will be fine if they continue to play the same way they did in their last outing.

“We’ve earned the right to be in the position we’re in right now by the way we’ve played all year long,” said Sacco. “When we play like (we did against San Jose) we’re going to be extremely difficult to play against. Our guys believe that, and that’s how we have to play here down the stretch.”

Craig Anderson will be in net tomorrow for Colorado. Anderson has started each of the Avalanche’s three games against the Ducks this season, posting a 1-2 record.

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Yip Practices, But Won’t Play
In an encouraging sign, forward Brandon Yip participated in a full-contact practice this morning, 29 days after being sidelined with a shoulder injury on March 1 against the Detroit Red Wings. The original timetable for Yip’s return was 4-to-6 weeks, so the rookie is still at the short end of that prognosis.

Peter Mueller took what Sacco tabbed as a “maintenance day” today, so Yip slid into Mueller’s spot alongside Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk at practice. Mueller will play tomorrow, but Yip still isn’t ready to return to the lineup.

“He won’t be playing tomorrow night, but he may be available to us very shortly,” said Sacco.

Yip’s return – whether that comes Friday against Calgary, Sunday versus San Jose, or even sometime beyond that point – will be a welcome sight. In the first 26 games of his NHL career, Yip had scored 11 goals and added seven assists before suffering the injury.

Jones, Yelle Getting Closer
David Jones (knee) was again on the ice for about half an hour prior to practice this morning, putting himself through skating and shooting drills. The next step for the injured forward will be to join his team for a full practice, and that day could come soon.

“Jonesy is progressing very well and hopefully he’ll be joining us at practice sometime here in the near future,” said Sacco.

Stephane Yelle skated with the team today wearing an orange non-contact jersey. The veteran played in five games with the Avalanche after being acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes at the trade deadline, but has missed the last seven contests with a leg injury suffered on March 14 at Dallas.

Forward David Koci (hand) and defenseman Ryan Wilson (head) also took part in practice today, but there was no update on their conditions.
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