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Avs hope to leave N.Y. on winning note

by Eric Goodman
AVALANCHE (3-2-0) at RANGERS (1-1-1)


Season series -- This is the first of two games between these cross-conference clubs. The visiting Rangers claimed the only game against the Avs last season with a 3-1 victory on Jan. 31, 2010. Currently injured right wing Marian Gaborik notched a hat trick for the Rangers in that game.

Big story -- The Rangers are in for quite an uphill battle after the high-scoring Gaborik and captain Chris Drury both went down with injuries during Friday's home-opener overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. According to the Rangers, Gaborik is expected to miss two-to-four weeks with a separated left shoulder and Drury will be out six weeks after suffering a fracture to the same left finger he broke during training camp. As of Saturday, Rangers coach John Tortorella said he would not rely on any callups from the Hartford Wolfpack (AHL) and will instead go with Todd White and Erik Christensen as Gaborik and Drury's respective replacements.

Team Scope:

Avalanche -- The Avs would like to look past their disappointing 5-2 loss at the New York Islanders on Saturday and should be confident heading into the last contest of a five-game road trip since they won't have to worry about handling Gaborik. Before the Islanders loss, Colorado had won three of its first four games of the season with a balanced scoring attack led by a collection of high-powered youth like Chris Stewart (age  22), Paul Stastny (24) and Matt Duchene (19). Colorado is 2-2-0 on its current road trip.

Rangers -- New York has done a fine job recently with assembling a younger, quicker squad and they currently need to rely on their kids more than ever. With White and Christensen not being the type of players that can truly replicate the skill void left by Gaborik and Drury; youngsters like forwards Brandon Dubinsky (age 24), Derek Stepan (20) and Ryan Callahan (25) and defensemen Marc Staal (23) and Michael Del Zotto (20) will have to continue playing strong if the Blueshirts hope to be competitive in 2010-11.

Who's hot -- Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles is currently on a season-opening five-game points streak, tallying an NHL-leading seven assists over that span... For the Rangers, Dubinsky has four points (3g, 1a) over his first three games of the season.

Injury report -- For the Avs, center Peter Mueller has still not played at all this season due to a concussion  ... As mentioned earlier, Gaborik (left shoulder) and Drury (left finger) are out with long-term injuries for the Rangers.

Stat pack -- According to the 2010-11 opening-day rosters, the Rangers defensive corps is the youngest in the Eastern Conference with an average age of 25 years and 51 days.

Puck drop -- "Obviously this is not the way you want to come into the lineup. But I just have to go out and do what’s asked of me, whatever role it is. I am just excited for the opportunity."  -- Todd White, a healthy scratch over the Rangers' first three games.
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