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Canucks-Avalanche Preview

by Deborah Francisco
CANUCKS (29-10-6) AT AVALANCHE (23-26-6)


Last 10: Vancouver 7-2-1; Colorado 4-4-2.

Season Series – This is the fifth meeting of six between the Avalanche and Canucks this season. Vancouver boasts a perfect record against Colorado so far this season; however there is a slight asterisk to the story as each of the contests was decided by a two goal differential or less and the first game was determined in overtime.

Big Story – Colorado hopes to top Vancouver for the first time this season to gain two precious inner-division points. Currently, Colorado trails Vancouver by 12 points, but the Avalanche remain in the 8th spot in the West. Vancouver, meanwhile, has lost two in its last three after completing a 17-game unbeaten streak that started on Dec. 8.

"The games have been good though, they've been tight," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "The bottom line is, we're going to take care of our own business right now. We have to worry about ourselves and not look at where we're at as far as the standings with (the Canucks)."

Team Scope:

Canucks – Vancouver continues to turn heads in the League as it lives up to the potential that pundits predicted for the club before the season ever started. Vancouver basically steamrolled the competition all through December and early January before falling to the New York Rangers, 1-0, on Jan. 13. Despite the productive midseason month, Vancouver also suffered one of its worst losses of the season so far in a 4-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday.

On top of suffering the shutout loss in the Twin Cities, Vancouver also lost defenseman Andrew Alberts to an upper-body injury in the game after also losing defenseman Aaron Rome on Friday afternoon.

"They did the best they could, but it's a tough job for them," goaltender Cory Schneider said. "We've been fortunate during this stretch not to lose too many guys, now we're starting to and we'll have to deal with it."

Vancouver hopes to rebound from that shutout loss  the in Tuesday night's contest in Denver.

Avalanche – Colorado also faced Minnesota this week and, unlike Vancouver, came up with a 4-1 win in the Twin Cities.

The Avalanche had offensive contributions from Kevin Porter, Milan Hejduk, Tomas Fleischmann and Ryan Wilson in the contest. Colorado will need another big night from its offense to take down the juggernaut that is Vancouver. Colorado will depend on the speed of its young squad in order to top the Canucks for the first time this season.

"We're a skating team, so it's a matter of coming out and playing our game instead of playing to what they want us to do," said right wing David Jones. "Our speed is our best asset, so I think getting pucks behind their 'D' and working them in their own end will help us tomorrow night."

Defenseman Kyle Cumiskey might return to Colorado's lineup after being sidelined with a head injury since Oct. 30.

Who's hotRyan Kesler has notched a point in each of the three games where Vancouver did not get shut out in the last five and he is third overall on the squad with 42. … Milan Hejduk has the hot hands in Colorado right now with 37 points on the season. He also boasts five points in his last four games, including the game-winner in Colorado's last contest.

Injury Report – Vancouver is without defenseman Andrew Alberts (shoulder) and Rome (knee). … Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly will miss three weeks with a shoulder injury he sustained after losing his balance and crashing into the boards during during Friday's contest with Minnesota. Colorado is still without Peter Mueller (concussion), but Cumiskey will likely play Tuesday night.

Stat Pack – Historically, Colorado has notched 238 goals for and has allowed 205 goals against when playing the Canucks at home.

Puck Drop – Colorado was happy to have Chris Stewart back in the lineup on Friday against Minnesota after the power-forward missed 21-contests with a broken hand.

"It's just going to get better with every game," said Stewart. "I've had a chance to get three or four practices in before the Vancouver game (on Tuesday) and I can already feel it coming back."

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