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At the Rink: Canucks at Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Maybe the return of goalie Semyon Varlamov will provide the Colorado Avalanche with the spark they need to secure their first home win of the season.

Varlamov, a Vezina Trophy finalist last season, will start Friday against the Vancouver Canucks at Pepsi Center after missing three games to recover from a groin injury.

But coach Patrick Roy said every player will need to be at their best if the Avalanche (1-4-2) are going to turn things around.

"I want us to be ready individually tonight," he said. "I want our guys to go home this afternoon and think individually what they need to do for tonight's game: win their battles, skate hard, be sharp around their net. If we're doing a good job individually, I think we'll have a good night.

"I'm not nervous about the X's and O's and stuff like that. Everybody understands the system, everybody knows what we expect. But I think we need to be better individually. We always try to be positive, and it's normal with a young group, but at the same time our game management needs to be a little bit better and more consistent."

The Avalanche have had a lead at some point in their past five games but have lost four in a row, two in overtime.

"Regardless of our record, I feel like we're getting better," said right wing Nathan MacKinnon, who won the Calder Trophy last season but is still looking for his first goal this season. "We've been leading in almost every game this season. We have to close things out."

The Canucks split the first two games of a three-game road trip. Goalie Ryan Miller made 31 saves Thursday when the Canucks defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-1. They've gone 3-1-0 on the road this season and have a 7-2-1 record in the past 10 games against the Avalanche.

Here are the projected lineups:


Daniel Sedin - Henrik Sedin - Radim Vrbata

Chris Higgins - Nick Bonino - Alexandre Burrows

Shawn Matthias - Brad Richardson - Zack Kassian

Derek Dorsett - Linden Vey - Jannik Hansen

Dan Hamhuis - Kevin Bieksa

Alexander Edler - Christopher Tanev

Yannick Weber - Luca Sbisa

Eddie Lack

Ryan Miller

Scratched: Frank Corrado, Tom Sestito

Injured: Ryan Stanton (lower body)


Alex Tanguay - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Nathan MacKinnon

Jamie McGinn - John Mitchell - Maxime Talbot

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Daniel Briere

Nick Holden - Erik Johnson

Jan Hejda - Tyson Barrie

Brad Stuart - Zach Redmond

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: Nate Guenin

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (back surgery), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Status report: Lack is expected to start in goal for the Canucks after Miller played Thursday. … Redmond, who signed as a free agent July 1, will make his Avalanche debut. He'll replace Wilson, who is expected to miss 2-3 weeks after hurting his shoulder Tuesday against the Florida Panthers. "I'm just really excited," Redmond said. "I just want to work hard, be steady in my own end and hopefully chip in offensively and make it hard for them to keep me out."

Who's hot: Daniel Sedin has a goal and seven assists in the Canucks first six games. … Hansen and Vrbata have two-game scoring streaks with a goal and an assist. … Tanguay has a goal in three consecutive games and leads the Avalanche with three goals. … Barrie and Duchene have two-game scoring streaks with a goal and an assist.

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