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Wednesday's Practice Report

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Maybe a little dose of the road will be good for the Avalanche.

After going winless during the last three games of a five-game stretch at Pepsi Center, the Avs will hit the road for back-to-back contests in Edmonton (Thursday) and Calgary (Friday).

For the Avs, it’s a chance to simplify their game and get back to the things that made them so successful during a recent six-game winning streak.

“It’s going to be good to get on the road, have all the guys together for a few days and bring the team back real tight,” said Philippe Dupuis. “Sometimes at home you try to do too much. We want to put on a good show for the crowd, but we have to play our system and have to play our game. That’s the bottom line.”

Going on the road often brings a different mentality, most notably because the players can simply focus on the game. Colorado’s most recent road trip – a five-game swing through the Southeast Division in early December – ended with the Avalanche claiming six of a possible 10 points.

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“We had some success the last time we were on the road,” said defenseman Matt Hunwick. “It’ll be good to get away. It’s two in two nights, so we’ll have to be ready, and it’s against division opponents. With all those things coming together, we need to be prepared.”

Many times after a team loses three consecutive games, questions begin to pile up. Are the players squeezing their sticks too hard? Is confidence lacking in the locker room?

Those questions aren’t even a minor concern for Colorado’s players right now. Almost to a man, the Avs believe that Monday’s game against Detroit was the best 5-on-5 hockey they’ve played all season.

“I think 5-on-5 we played really well,” said Hunwick. “It’s pretty obvious that special teams is where we faltered, and that was the difference in the game. We had chances with our power play that we didn’t capitalize on as well. We have to take the positives from it and move on.”

Shattenkirk Bruised
If you caught the Avalanche’s game against the Red Wings on Monday, you saw Kevin Shattenkirk take a Kris Draper shot right between the eyes. The rookie defenseman was battling in front of Colorado’s net with Patrick Eaves late in the second period when Draper’s attempt from the lower left circle was deflected and caught him under the visor.

At today’s practice, Shattenkirk was sporting two swollen, black (or more accurately, purple) eyes and a handful of stitches at the top of his nose.

“I just saw the slap shot and I tensed up. Somehow it came right under the visor,” said Shattenkirk. “I feel pretty lucky that it didn’t get me in the eye or anything.”

Shattenkirk went through a full practice on Wednesday and hopes to be in the lineup Thursday against Edmonton if the swelling in his face has subsided by that time.

“It’s a freak accident. If that happens 100 times, maybe once it will get through,” said Shattenkirk. “For whatever reason, in that case it didn’t work out for me.”

Injury Updates
There was a small piece of good news coming out of the Avalanche’s practice this morning. Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco confirmed that defenseman Kyle Cumiskey (concussion) will join the team on the road trip to continue the skating regimen that he recently began. Cumiskey will not, however, be available to play on the trip.

Sacco also noted that forward Chris Stewart (fractured hand) will remain in Denver over the weekend.
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