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Pregame: Red Wings @ Avalanche

Without Liles, the Colorado Avalanche begin a key stretch. In the next 6 games before the All-Star break, the Avs play Detroit, Calgary, Anaheim, San Jose, Phoenix and Detroit again. 5 of those 6 teams are above the Avs in the standings (and, theoretically, Pheonix could be by the time that game rolls around).

The Avs have a 3 game winning streak (and the Wings a 3 game losing streak). In the last 12 games, Colorado is 8-4 with Budaj (tonight's projected starter) at 7-2.
Brisebois (back) is still out and it doesn't sound like the Avs plan to recall anyone from Albany at the moment. That makes it - Clark, Skrastins, Klee, Vaananen, Sauer, Cumiskey. Clark is the only member of that group to have a point on the powerplay this year (with 5). Liles has accounted for 63% of the PP points from defensemen this season.

For the Wings, Matt Schneider is out (knee). Chelios was expected to miss the game (following the recent double homicide in his restaurant), but with Schneider on the shelf, the Wings were short on eyebrows and will rush Chelios back. No word on who will be in net for Detroit, but I think Hasek is a safe bet.