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Tyutin Could Return To Lineup Against Predators

Avalanche set to begin 14-game month

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Defenseman Fedor Tyutin took part in his first team practice Monday after missing three games because of a groin injury and could return to the Colorado Avalanche's lineup for Tuesday's contest against the Nashville Predators.

"It felt good. It's always great to be back with the team and practice with the team," Tyutin said following practice at Family Sports Center. "I've been by myself for a week so it was getting old pretty quick. It was definitely nice to be out there with the boys."

The determination on whether Tyutin suits up for his first contest since Oct. 20 will be made by the Avs' training staff.

"I haven't talked to the trainers since practice finished," head coach Jared Bednar said of Tyutin. "He went out early, felt good and had a little skate and decided to stay out with the group. As far as I know, everything went pretty well."

Tyutin signed with the Avalanche as a free agent on July 1 after spending the last eight seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets and was off to solid start with his new club before getting hurt. In four games, Tyutin has two assists, one point shy of matching his scoring total from last year with the Blue Jackets (one goal and two assists in 61 contests).

Video: Fedor Tyutin on his return to practice

After the injury happened, Bednar said on Oct. 22 that, "We miss a little bit of what Toots brings; he's been a really solid defender and puck-mover for us back there."

After nearly two weeks of rehab, Tyutin is glad to be back on the ice with his teammates.

"It sucks, you're kind of on your own, but it's good to be back," he said.

The only player that didn't practice on Monday was Jarome Iginla, who took a maintenance day. Cody McLeod took Iginla's place on a line with Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog during the session, but there doesn't seem to be a reason to think the 39-year-old right wing won't play against the Predators.

Other than McLeod filling in on the Duchene-centered line, the rest of the Avalanche's forward combinations stayed the same.

Video: Coach Bednar's post-practice press conference

Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net on Tuesday, kicking off a busy November for the Avs as they will play 14 games in 30 days. Colorado has contests nearly every other day, except for three two-day breaks (Nov. 9-10, 24-25 and 29-30) and a back-to-back set this weekend versus Minnesota and at St. Louis.

"It's good, less practice. It's great," said forward Nathan MacKinnon of the upcoming schedule. "We're here to play games. We're excited. I like getting in a rhythm."

Bednar said he and the coaching staff join in MacKinnon's enthusiasm to finally be playing more contests.

"That's what we like as coaches. That's what we like as players," Bednar said. "They may think the coaches like practices--we certainly like to get some practice time in, but everybody in the room is excited to get competing on game night and that's what it is all about. To find a rhythm and to play every second night here for a while I think will be good for us."

Prior to practice, Colorado announced that it had reassigned forward Gabriel Bourque to the San Antonio Rampage of the American Hockey League.

Bourque signed a one-year deal with the Avalanche on Oct. 10 after taking part in the team's training camp and preseason on a professional tryout. He had appeared in five games for the Avs this season but served as a healthy scratch in the club's last two contests.

"We need him to play," Bednar said. "We've got 14 forwards; pretty happy with our forward group, the way we played over the weekend, what we generated. Want to try and give these line combinations a little bit of time to see how they do. He's a guy that we can send down and get playing some games so he stays ready to go."

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