The biggest news for tonight's game is the return of Matt Duchene. Duchene has been out since December 29, 2011, when he suffered a knee injury during a game against the Phoenix Coyotes. Originally expected to be out approximately a month, the forward didn't start skating until just over a week ago. Losing both TJ Galiardi (shoulder, expected back in approximately a week) and Peter Mueller (torso, day-to-day) might have contributed to the timing of Duchene's return. Duchene had 24 points in 39 games prior to his injury. He needs to be better for the team's playoff hopes to remain alive.
Another story for the game is Mark Olver. He had a fantastic night in his season debut with the Avs on Friday where he scored a goal and an assist in the team's win over the Edmonton Oilers. He had some fantastic chemistry with Ryan O'Reilly, who contributed on all three of the Avs' goals, and Gabriel Landeskog, who also had a goal and an assist that night. No definitive word has been given about line combinations (at the time this preview was written, anyway), but I think it's safe to assume the Olver - O'Reilly - Landeskog line will remain intact.
Erik Johnson brings his own storyline to the game. He has scored a goal in each of his last three games, the longest streak of his career. Moreover, he has played superb hockey in those games, looking more and more like the first overall pick the Blues expected him to be. (How's Chris Stewart workin out for ya, St. Louie?)
Both Colorado and Winnipeg are on the playoff bubble in their respective conferences, so this game is a big two points for both clubs. With an OT win last night, the Phoenix Coyotes leapfrogged over the Los Angeles Kings for 7th in the standings. The Avalanche are tied with Dallas in points and wins, but the Stars have a game in hand, landing them in 10th with the Avs in 11th. A win tonight would put the Avs one point behind the 8th place Kings. Of course, Dallas does hit the ice again tonight (v. Nashville), so the clusterfuck that is the Western Conference will go on.