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2/8 Thrashers @ Avalanche Preview

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Peter McNab has Rick Nash. Don Cherry has Jordan Staal. Me? The guy not on the Avs that I most enjoy watching? Ilya Kovulchuk. Kovulchuk is part of a formidable one-two punch for the Thrashers - he and Marian Hossa each have 31 goals for Atlanta this year. That can't be great news for the Avs. If our defense had trouble containing Chris Gratton and Olli Jokinen...what will happen against Hossa and Kovulchuk?

Despite that up-front firepower, the Thrashers are just an average 14th in scoring (Colorado is 9th). Atlanta is 21st in goals against to the Avs 17th. Again, despite the talent, the Trashers are a surprisingly poor 21st on the PP (they will face the 24th ranked PL) while the Avs 9th ranked PP will square off against a dismal Atlanta PK (28th).

The Thrashers have a couple of guys from the last Colorado Cup win - Greg de Vries and Brad Larsen. And, of course, behind the Thrashers bench will be the Cup winning coach - Bob Hartley. For my money, Hartley is the best coach the Avalanche have had.

Jose Theodore starts again for the Avs. Brad May is expected to return tonight as well (Antti Laaksonen was waived yesterday to make room for May). With John-Michael Liles' foot reportedly was bleeding after the last game, it will be interesting to see if Quenneville goes with 7 defensemen again. I suspect he will go with 6, sitting Vaananen or Sauer. My guess for the 4th line tonight is May, Ben Guite and Mark Rycroft, making Brad Richardson a scratch.
The Avs are currently 9th in the West with 56 points, 6 points behind the Wild. The Wild host the Panthers tonight, while Oilers (also at 56 points) are idle. Atlanta is 1st in the SE division (3rd in the conference) with 67 points, 5 more than Tampa.

Hot: Brett Clark has 7 points in the last 7 games.

Not: Brad Richardson has 1 point in his last 17 games