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Game 45: Avalanche At Panthers, Preview And Open Thread

Honestly, why do the Florida Panthers even exist?  Why does most of the Southeast Division even exist?

Regardless of the reason, the Avalanche fly into Florida today to face the struggling Panthers, a day after beating the struggling Hurricanes with a dramatic third period comeback led by new team hero Marek Svatos.

Svatos' rise couldn't have come at a better time.  The Avalanche continue to make adjustments on their offensive lines due to the injuries of Ryan Smyth and Joe Sakic.  It's gotten so weird that rookie power forward Cody McLeod has been seen on the top line---Dater even wrote a quick blurb about it.  Goal scoring has been way down, but last night against the Hurricanes everything came together for them.  Stastny and Hejduk scored for the first time in what feels like forever.  Tyler Arnason had two assists.  Jose Theodore actually won a game.

Will last night's success be short-lived?  The team rarely plays well on the road and this game, back-to-back with last night's, is the fourth in a five-game road trip.  Surely the team is feeling the wear and tear.

A win tonight would go far in getting the Avs back in contention for the Northwest Division lead, especially since all four other rival teams are playing tonight, including the latest installment in the Battle Of Alberta (Calgary vs Edmonton for you newbies).  The Avs must win!

Game starts early today, 3:00 PM Mountain time, 5:00 PM Eastern.  I hope to see everyone here for the thread.

ESPN prevew.