||7 MT / 9 ET / 2 GMT
|26-23-4||January 28th, 2010
|56 pts||Pepsi Center
11th in West
4th in West
The Avalanche finish up a most excellent 5-game home stand tonight as they host the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center tonight. The Avs have enjoyed a rather leisurely-paced schedule lately with just 4 games in the last 12 days (and no travel). It may or may not have been a major contributing factor in winning all 4 of those games. Or, it may be just the terrific play of Paul Stastny, Matt Duchene, Craig Anderson and Chris Stewart (who will be playing in his 100th NHL game tonight). The Avalanche are trying to win their 7th consecutive game for the first time since January 17th, 2006 when David Aebischer and the Avs beat Ed Belfour and the Leafs 5-3. They also need a win to pull back in front of the Vancouver Canucks, who took over the NW division lead last night with a win against St Louis.
After tonight's game, the Avalanche begin another Key Stretch™. Maybe brutal stretch is a better term. Starting tonight, the Avalanche play 10 games in the next 17 days with 2 sets of back-to-backs and never more than one day off between games. That's the bad news. The good news? 7 of the 10 games are at home and ALL 10 teams are lower than the Avalanche in the standings. Let me type that again. ALL 10 teams are lower than the Avalanche in the standings. On average, the 10 teams have 11 fewer points than the Avs and have an average position of 10th in their conference. Here's the list:
|Thu, Jan 28, 2010||Minnesota Wild||12||54|
|Fri, Jan 29, 2010||@||Dallas Stars||10||55|
|Sun, Jan 31, 2010||New York Rangers||7||55|
|Tue, Feb 2, 2010||Columbus Blue Jackets||14||51|
|Thu, Feb 4, 2010||@||Nashville Predators||7||61|
|Sat, Feb 6, 2010||Edmonton Oilers||15||38|
|Mon, Feb 8, 2010||St. Louis Blues||13||54|
|Wed, Feb 10, 2010||Atlanta Thrashers||11||54|
|Fri, Feb 12, 2010||Phoenix Coyotes||5||65|
|Sat, Feb 13, 2010||@||Los Angeles Kings||6||63|
Winnable games. All of them. The Avalanche passed a major test in January by beating some tough teams: Buffalo. Calgary. New Jersey. Nashville. The Young Guns have proven that they can steal from the rich. Now they have to make sure they don't start giving to the poor. Wait, did I just confuse my movie metaphors?
Without looking, I'm going to type that Craig Anderson will start tonight. I do think we'll see Peter Budaj once or twice before the break, though (possibly tomorrow night in Dallas). Adam Foote will not be returning to the lineup tonight, but Ryan Wilson will be. That should give the defensive squad a big boost. Tonight's game is the final meeting of the regular season between the Wild and the Avs (I dig that I had to include a qualifier in there). Minnesota has already clinched the season series, but that won't make the victory any less sweet. The Wild played last night (they hosted the Wings); hopefully their fatigue is a factor in the game.