Defenseman Ryan Wilson
will be returning to the Avalanche’s lineup on Thursday when the club hosts the Minnesota Wild at Pepsi Center.
The rookie - who skated today wearing a black jersey instead of the orange non-contact sweater he wore on Tuesday - has missed the past two games after taking a hard hit on Jan. 18 against Edmonton. The blueliner has appeared in 38 games this season, recording 11 points (2g/9a).
“Wilson will be cleared to play. He’ll be available for us tomorrow night,” Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco confirmed after today’s practice.
While Wilson’s head injury is sufficiently healed, captain Adam Foote’s ankle isn’t quite there yet. Sacco noted that Foote is still day-to-day and close to returning.
When asked about his health, Foote responded that he is hoping to get back into Colorado’s lineup on Friday when the Avalanche plays in Dallas.
“It’s getting better. I’m not ready for tomorrow, but we’ll see what happens after tomorrow’s skate for Friday,” said Foote. “I just want to feel better. It’s the type of thing that lingers a long time and you don’t want it to reoccur, to come back and you’re out another few weeks.”
Sacco also touched on the status of defenseman Ruslan Salei (back) and forward Marek Svatos (chest), both of whom took part in practice again today.
“I don’t have a timetable on either of those guys. They’re still making their way back,” said Sacco. “The good news is that they’re skating. It’s a positive. It’s good for Rusty to get back out there. I know it’s been a long process for him, but certainly he’s excited to be back on the ice.”Scheduling Quirk
It’s not often that a team wraps up its season series with a division foe in January, but strangely enough, Thursday’s game against the Wild will mark the sixth and final time the teams will meet this season.
Minnesota won each of the first four matchups (with Colorado gaining two points via a pair of shootouts), but the Avs took the fifth meeting by a 4-3 count in St. Paul on Dec. 21.
“Our schedule has been kind of strange this year,” said defenseman John-Michael Liles. “But Minny always seems to play us very tough and it always seems to be a close game. And it’s going to be an important one. Any time you get into those divisional games those two points are huge.”
In an interesting side note, the Avs will have played six games against the Wild without yet facing Western Conference opponent Los Angeles once. The Avalanche and Kings will square off four times between Feb. 13 and April 11.
A number of things have to be factored in when the NHL sets its schedule each season, including the fact that many clubs share their home venues with other professional sports team (like the Avalanche does with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets and the NLL’s Colorado Mammoth). Special events, such as concerts and high school and college tournaments, also have to be considered.
“Sometimes the schedule works out that way where you play teams a lot in a short period,” said defenseman Scott Hannan. “It’s different, but sometimes that’s the way the schedule works. It can be tough with all the teams and all the rinks and all the other teams they have in there. But we’ll take what we can get.”