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Surging Avs set to host Ducks

by David Kalan
DUCKS (29-30-10) at AVALANCHE (36-30-4)


Last 10: Anaheim 4-6-0; Colorado 7-3-0.

Season Series: This will be the final meeting of the season for Anaheim and Colorado. The Avs have taken two of three this season from the Ducks, including the most recent game, a 4-1 win at the Pepsi Center on Feb. 27.

Big Story: The Ducks' already unlikely postseason hopes are beginning to fade this season, but they'll have a chance to rescue them Monday in Colorado, where the Avs have unexpectedly played their way into the thick of the West's playoff logjam.

Team Scope:

Ducks: After a spectacular second half that has revived postseason hopes which appeared dead at the All-Star Break, Anaheim might be fighting for its season Monday night. The Ducks are 13th in the West and with five teams to hop over to reach the eighth spot the task ahead seems daunting, particularly with an eight-point deficit separating Anaheim for the postseason field. Monday provides the Ducks with a valuable opportunity, however, as one of the teams they trail at the moment is Colorado, and a victory could make a daunting eight-point deficit look like a slightly more manageable six-point one.

On the contrary, however, a loss could put Anaheim as far as 10 points out and with just 12 games to play this season after Monday, such an enormous deficit would all but snuff out the team's playoff chances. Getting a victory will also require a quick turn of momentum for the Ducks, who are wrapping a three-game road trip in Denver. Anaheim has lost in each of its first two stops on the current trek.

Avalanche: Of all the teams in the postseason hunt, Colorado just might be the most surprising one to be this close to a playoff berth at this point in the season. After all, the Avs have dealt with a number of injuries all season and missed out on the postseason a year ago. But with wins in seven of their last 10 and only 12 games remaining in the season, none of the teams fighting for the eighth spot has more points than the Avalanche.

There are significant causes for concern for the Avs, however. Calgary, which has the same amount of points as Colorado, has a game in hand on the Avs, while San Jose, just one point back, has three. Those obstacles may pale in comparison to the one presented to the team last Wednesday, when it was announced that Matt Duchene would miss the next 3-4 weeks with an ankle injury. Combine that with the fact that Colorado plays seven of its last 11 on the road, and it will be tough sledding if the Avs are to actually make the playoffs.

Who's Hot: Corey Perry has looked like his MVP-winning self lately, notching four goals and an assist in his last five games. ... Jamie McGinn is starting to get into a groove after coming to Colorado from San Jose at the deadling. He has four goals and two assists in his last four games.

Injury Report: Perry (right shoulder) and Nick Bonino (knee) are both considered questionable for Anaheim. In addition to Duchene's injury, Chuck Kobasew (back) is considered questionable for Colorado.

Stat Pack: If you want to beat Colorado you had better do it in regulation. The Avalanche have only four overtime or shootout losses this season, fewer than any time in the League other than Detroit or Boston. And that's not a function of simply not getting to overtime. The Avs' 8 shootout wins are the most in the Western Conference.

Puck Drop: No words can describe just how urgent Monday's game is for Anaheim, which could very well be focusing on the draft come Tuesday morning. Given the Ducks' talent-laden roster, it's hard to believe they're a team that will go quietly into the offseason, but if Colorado can continue its winning ways, particularly given their sizeable playoff chances, the Ducks may have no choice.

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