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Avs must make life difficult for opposing goalies

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche's lack of offense has become such a problem that it doesn't matter much which goalie the team is facing, especially at home.

"Unfortunately when we're playing, the opposition's goaltender has been the No. 1 star for a lot of nights," coach Joe Sacco said after this morning's skate. "We have to make it harder on the opposition's goalie, very simple."

The Avalanche have scored just 24 goals in 13 games at the Pepsi Center, so it should come as no surprise that the club has lost nine of them heading into tonight's contest with the New Jersey Devils and goalie Martin Brodeur, whose 630 wins are the most in NHL history.

The Avalanche are averaging over 30 shots per game and have registered between 40 and 51 shots five times, but too often the shots have been taken from the perimeter. Forwards haven't been doing a very good job of getting to the front of the net for deflections and tip-ins, or to hunt down rebounds.

"We've obviously had our troubles scoring at home," Sacco said. "We've been in a little bit of a slump. We're a young team right now that's having trouble scoring, having trouble finding the back of the net. We have to find ways, we have to come up with a solution to get scoring opportunities and to bury our chances when they're there."

More line changes are in store for tonight.

David Jones will move to right wing on a line with Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny, and Milan Hejduk will skate at right wing with Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly. Daniel Winnik will be at left wing with Jay McClement and Chuck Kobasew. Sacco was still tinkering with the fourth line.

"We're playing very well defensively, we just have to find ways to score," Duchene said. "If we can get on a track where were scoring three and five goals a game, which we're capable of doing, I think we'll be able to win some games. We just have to find that offense."

Defenseman Erik Johnson (groin) skated this morning but will miss his fourth game in a row. Left wing Peter Mueller (head, groin) also skated and will sit for the 22nd consecutive game.

The Devils are beginning a four-game road trip that includes stops in Minnesota, Winnipeg and Toronto. They've won three of their past four road games and are 7-5-0 on the road overall.

Left wing Eric Boulton is expected to return to the Devils' lineup after recovering from a broken right hand. Boulton hasn't played since getting injured Oct. 21 against San Jose.

Defenseman Andy Greene, who was hit with a shot Saturday in the Devils' 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, has a sore foot and won't play. He's expected to return at some point on the trip.

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