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Game 18: Avalanche At Stars, Preview and Open Thread

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The Avalanche hasn't played hockey in anger since Sunday of this week, when they beat up on the then-struggling Minnesota Wild.  The Wild managed to win last night (against the Oilers, wow) and is now just one point behind the Avs in the Northwest Division standings.  Obviously, to keep their lead, the Avalanche should consider their road game tonight against the Dallas Stars to be non-losable.  

The Stars are having all kinds of trouble, having lost four straight games at home, stuck overall around .500 and stuck in the middle of a Pacific Division that got off to a slow start in general.  The Sharks are finally winning games and Anaheim doesn't look quite so bad, but the rest of the teams are still pretty shaky.  The Stars' head honchos have responded by firing their GM and their team president all in the same week.  One of the people filling the voids is Brett Hull, of all people, taking over as an "interim co-general manager," which sounds to me a lot like "we don't trust this guy."  Hull was a great goal-scorer but he's shown lousy judgment in the role of hockey broadcaster and I highly doubt he'll succeed in any meaningful way as a general manager.  I could be wrong, but it's been a good year for me so far.

The Avalanche, far more importantly, are stable as always in the front office and on the ice, enjoying the best start since the golden, magical season of 2000-01, in which Ray Bourque won the Cup, Joe Sakic cemented his place in the Hall of Fame and Alex Tanguay actually showed a work ethic and some clutch goal-scoring.

What is a little less stable is the team's collective health, at least among the grinders and d-men.  Jordan Leoprone is still out with a wrist that doesn't work, and Karlis Skrastins is back from a shoulder separation but not yet playing.  Ian Laperriere just went down with a sprained knee and will be out a couple of weeks.  To fill his spot, the Avs called up Brad Richardson from Lake Erie, where he's been rehabbing his own damaged wrist after missing all of the first 17 games.  He is a likely starter tonight, unless Coach Q decides to run 7 blueliners and play Scott Parker more than three total minutes.

Jose Theodore will get the start in net, even though he sucks against the Stars (1-7-3).  I'm sure we're all still holding our breath, waiting for the giant Theo meltdown that's been long overdue.  I wonder how many games he'll have to win for us to get over that paranoia...

Paul Stastny will try his best to not suck on the road tonight, I hope, and ideally nobody else on the team will get hurt.  Getting hurt is kind of a bummer.

The game starts at 6:30 PM Mountain time, 8:30 PM Eastern.  I'm a super cool person so usually I'm busy on Friday nights, but you never know what could happen and I might be around for the game to live blog.  If I'm in the house, I'll be posting comments while watching the game.  Look forward to it.

ESPN preview.