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Kings continue homestand vs. struggling Avs

by Adam Kimelman
AVALANCHE (26-28-7) at KINGS (34-23-4)

TV -- ALT (HD), FS-W (HD)

Last 10 --
Colorado 1-8-1; Los Angeles 7-1-2

Season series --
This is the third of four meetings between the teams this season. The Kings won the first two games, both in Colorado. In their most recent meeting, Jonathan Quick stopped all 23 shots he faced and Kings captain Dustin Brown had 2 goals and 2 assists to lead Los Angeles to a 5-0 victory.

Big story -- In the topsy-turvy Western Conference, the Kings are back in thanks to a recent run of solid play that has seen them start the month in 10th and enter the month's final weekend in fifth. In the second game of their six-game homestand, they have a chance to move even higher in the standings.

The Avs are just looking to start putting some positive results together as they embark on a three-game California road trip.

Team Scope:

Avalanche --
As the season draws to a disappointing close in Denver, so might the career of captain Adam Foote.

Foote has missed the past eight games with a torn quadriceps muscle. He'd like to return some time this season, but isn't sure when, and it might not even be with the Avs, as his name has been bandied about in trade rumors.

Wherever Foote plays, at the end of his 19th NHL season, the 39-year-old two-time Stanley Cup champion could decide to put his skates away for good.

"I've been down the stretch of my career for the past three years," Foote told the Denver Post when the topic was brought up. "I've been on the back nine for a while."

However, he added he hasn't decided anything just quite yet.

"I promised myself and my family and the team that I wouldn't even think about that, or waste energy thinking about that, until each season's over," Foote said.

Kings -- The players certainly were happy with Thursday's 4-2 win against the Wild, and the fact that when they got up Friday morning they were fifth in the Western Conference. But they also understood the reality of their situation -- that only two points separated them from 10th-place Calgary.

"I've never seen these many teams so close, at least not this late (in the season)," forward Jarret Stoll told the Los Angeles Times. "Usually there are three or four teams, but when there's eight or nine, it definitely makes the stretch drive go by a lot slower."

It was a good way to start their six-game homestand, the second of which is Saturday, but it's the last against a team not currently in the top eight in the West. They play the Red Wings on Monday, followed by the Coyotes, Canucks and Stars. So like everything else in the Western Conference, nothing is set quite yet.

Who's hot -- Kings center Anze Kopitar has 3 goals and 5 assists in his last seven games. … Avalanche forward Milan Hejduk has scored power-play goals in back-to-back games for the first time since mid-January.

Injury report --
The Kings have a mostly healthy team. … Foote is traveling with the Avalanche while he recovers from his quad injury, but is unsure when he'll return. T.J. Galiardi is out 6-8 weeks after having surgery on his arm, while Ryan O'Byrne is expected to miss a week or two due to facial lacerations after suffered recently in a game against the Oilers.

Stat pack -- The Kings are 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, and have outscored their opponents 26-20. In the 10 games before that, they were 4-5-1 and were outscored 19-18.

Puck drop -- Avalanche center Paul Stastny was quick to get on the record that his father's opinion on last week's trade that shipped power forward Chris Stewart and rookie defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis for defenseman Erik Johnson and forward Jay McClement was only one person's opinion and not something he shared.

Peter Stastny had said on a St. Louis radio station that the trade "destroyed the (Avalanche)."

"I think we gave up two good players, but we got two good players that we need to address different needs in this locker room," Paul told the Denver Post. "The way we're going this year, just kind of playing offense wouldn't win us games. We need to add something to the (defense) corps and we needed a defensive center."

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