GAME: Colorado Avalanche (16-7-3-1) at Vancouver Canucks (15-7-4-2).
TIME: Thursday, 10 p.m. EST.
The retirement of Patrick Roy -- arguably the NHL's greatest goaltender -- and
injuries to two of the game's biggest stars hasn't been enough to slow down the
Colorado looks to extend a season-high six-game unbeaten streak when it
visits the Vancouver Canucks in a battle for first place in the Northwest
Despite an abundance of offensive stars, Roy's retirement figured to damage
Colorado's chance of remaining one of the league's elite teams. David
Aebischer, however, has answered his critics by playing very well in the first
two months of the season, and is one of the main reasons why Colorado is
challenging for the NHL's best record.
Making the Avalanche's early season success even more impressive is they
have done it without much help from reigning league MVP Peter Forsberg and star
left wing Paul Kariya. An abdominal injury has limited Forsberg to 11 games
while Kariya has played just seven games after spraining his right wrist.
"We've got enough depth to where we expect to win every night out,"
Colorado coach Tony Granato said. "This has given a lot of guys who might not
have played as much a lot of confidence, and guys are playing for each other."
Captain Joe Sakic had three assists Tuesday in a 4-1 victory over visiting
Washington, as Colorado improved to 4-0-2 in its last six games.
Sakic and linemate Alex Tanguay, among the league leaders in points, have
both been instrumental in Colorado's success. Sakic has eight goals and 17
assists in the last 18 games while Tanguay leads the NHL with 26 assists.
Vancouver captain Markus Naslund scored his fourth goal of the game 24
seconds into overtime Tuesday, lifting the Canucks to a 4-3 victory over
"It's definitely good for your confidence, that's for sure, and just shows
it's important to shoot the puck," said Naslund, who returned after missing
one game with a groin injury. "But more than that it was good we came up with
a win even though we didn't play a good game."
Backup Johan Hedberg made the start against his former team after No. 1
goalie Dan Cloutier injured his groin during the morning skate. Cloutier is
listed as day-to-day.
The Canucks are 1-1-1 on a five-game homestand that concludes Sunday against