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Red Wings-Avalanche Preview

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Playing without their leading scorer certainly won't help the Colorado Avalanche in their matchup with the Detroit Red Wings. The defending Stanley Cup champions might be similarly undermanned if one of their top players can't suit up.

Center Paul Statsny will miss his first game of the season on Saturday night, when the Avalanche host a Red Wings team that could be without defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom.

As if dealing with the absence of veteran center Joe Sakic - sidelined until March after injuring his left hand in a snow blower accident two weeks ago - wasn't enough, Colorado (17-16-1) must now do without the services of Stastny, who is out indefinitely with a fractured right forearm.

Stastny, leading the team with 21 assists and 31 points, scored a goal and added two assists during a 5-4 overtime victory over visiting Phoenix on Tuesday night, but broke his arm when it got hit by a slapshot in the final minute of regulation.

Losing Stastny is a big blow for a Colorado team that is trying to establish some consistency after alternating wins and losses in its last six contests.

"We'll have to absorb some more responsibilities for defensive zone faceoffs and penalty killing situations, because Paul did a lot of those, as well as power play," coach Tony Granato told the Avalanche's official Web site.

Special teams has been a weakness for Colorado, which has converted 16.2 percent of its power-play opportunities while killing off just 79.9 percent its penalties. Both marks rank in the bottom half of the league.

Those inefficiencies could be further exposed against a Detroit team that has killed off 81.4 percent of opponents' man-advantage attempts while its power-play unit ranks third in the NHL at 26.2 percent.

However, the Red Wings (23-7-4) might be hampered in those situations without Lidstrom, who left early in the second period of Friday's 3-2 loss at Nashville after taking a puck off of his ankle.

Coach Mike Babcock said X-rays were negative, but the veteran defenseman did not return and is considered day-to-day.

"It is certainly going to hurt any lineup," said Detroit goalie Ty Conklin, who made 28 saves Friday. "You got the best defenseman in the world your team is going to notice him."

Detroit is 10-2-1 in its last 13 meetings with Colorado, although it lost 3-2 at home to the Avalanche on Dec. 15.

Andrew Raycroft made 34 saves for Colorado in that outing, and stopped 19 shots Tuesday to win his fourth straight start.

With Peter Budaj having lost his last three starts, Raycroft could again be in the net. He's 3-1-0 with a 1.89 GAA in four career games versus the Red Wings.

Despite Friday's loss, Conklin has been playing well while Detroit starter Chris Osgood deals with a groin injury, going 3-1-0 with a 2.01 GAA and a .930 save percentage since Osgood last played.

Red Wings leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk has five goals and eight assists during a six-game point streak.

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