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Yip Finding His Scoring Touch

by Aaron Lopez / Colorado Avalanche
Yip Finding His Touch

Prior to last Sunday’s game against the Calgary Flames, Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco was asked about the play of forward Brandon Yip.

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After an impressive rookie campaign in 2009-10 that saw him score 11 goals in 32 games (and finish first among NHL rookies in goals-per-game at 0.34), Yip has struggled at times this season. When the question was posed to Sacco five days ago, Yip had scored just nine times through 67 games and had found himself as a healthy scratch at times.

Sacco believed that confidence – or a lack thereof – may have been playing a big role in Yip’s performance.

“It’s been a tough year for him, there’s no question.  This game is very difficult to play when you don’t have confidence and confidence is fleeting,” Sacco said on Sunday. “Right now I think he lacks confidence in his game. I think maybe it’s been a lesson for Brandon as well, that one good year in this league doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to happen year after year.

“But he’s a young player who’s gone through a slump and right now he’s having a tough time getting out of it. He’s trying; he tries, he works hard, he finishes his checks. He’s trying to do other things to take his mind off of scoring. Certainly it’s not really happening for him right now. You just have to continue to work your way out of it. There’s promise there for him, but it’s been a tough stretch.”

Well, it appears as though Yip has regained some of that lost confidence. He’s been noticeably harder to play against over the past few games and has also started to regain his scoring touch.

Yip had struggled through a stretch that saw him go 27 games without registering a goal, but he netted his 10th tally of the season on Thursday night in Dallas and then added another pair in tonight’s rematch against the Stars.

The Vancouver native’s first tally came with the Avalanche down a man, marking his first career short-handed goal. Just over 13 minutes into the second period, Yip flew up the left wing on a 2-on-1 rush with Philippe Dupuis, but elected to take the shot himself. It was the right move, as he buried a wrister under the right arm of Dallas netminder Kari Lehtonen.

Then, exactly five minutes into the final frame, Yip took a Jay McClement feed and put a well-placed wrist shot into the upper-left corner of the net from between the circles.

The winger has now set career highs in games (70), goals (12), assists (10) and points (22).

Add Another To The Injured List
Yet another Avalanche defenseman was added to Colorado’s injured list on Friday night, as Erik Johnson missed tonight’s game with a head injury. It marked the first game Johnson has sat out since being acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 18.

Six other defensemen are currently sidelined for the Avalanche, including John-Michael Liles (concussion), Matt Hunwick (head), Kyle Quincey (shoulder), Kyle Cumiskey (whiplash), Cameron Gaunce (finger) and Adam Foote (leg).

The Avalanche’s defensive corps tonight consisted of Shawn Belle, Jonas Holos, Ray Macias, Ryan O’Byrne and Ryan Wilson. David Koci, who has mostly skated as a forward over the past few years but is a naturally trained blueliner, also played a regular shift on the back end.

Among those players, only Wilson appeared in Colorado’s season opener against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7, 2010.

With 11 players sitting out Friday’s game due to injury, the Avalanche’s man-games lost total increased to 464 on the season (a franchise record). Just like Thursday night in Dallas, the Avalanche had no healthy scratches tonight against the Stars.

Foote Revered, Loathed By Opposition
If you somehow managed to miss it, Avalanche captain Adam Foote announced Friday morning that he will retire at the conclusion of the 2010-11 season. Foote plans to play Sunday afternoon when Colorado closes out its season by hosting the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center.

When players such as Foote – those who have carved out long, established careers– retire, it’s customary that the organization gathers statements from former teammates and even opposing players to celebrate the occasion.

Players such as Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, Rob Blake and Ray Bourque had some wonderful things to say about their ex-teammate, but it was a former rival, Brendan Shanahan, who offered up the most entertaining quote of the day.

Shanahan, who experienced his fair share of battles with Foote during a 21-year NHL career, has been left with a few long-term reminders of the Avalanche defenseman.

“Congratulations to Adam for such a complete and successful career,” Shanahan said in his statement. “I both loved AND hated playing against him. I am reminded of our friendship on the ice every time my shoulder locks up or my nose makes that constant funny noise while I sleep. Thank you Adam!”
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