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Game 62: Avalanche At Coyotes, Preview And Open Thread

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There are a few teams in the NHL that the Colorado Avalanche just can't seem to beat anymore.  One is Detroit.  Another is Anaheim.  And, surprising enough, one is the Phoenix Coyotes.  

The Avs are 0-1-2 against the 'Yotes this season, and tonight's final matchup is inarguably the most important---the teams are tied with 66 points and share the ninth spot in the Western Conference.  Ilya Bryzgalov has anchored Wayne Gretzky's merry band of rookies and cast-offs, who could make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.  Beating the Avs tonight would certainly help their cause.

The Avs, on the other hand, are looking to extend their five-game losing streak in hopes of missing the playoffs for the second straight season.  Paul Stastny, who will likely return to the lineup for the first time since his appendix (and then his groin) betrayed him just before the All Star break, will look to emulate his new teammate Ryan Smyth, who has been totally invisible since his own return from injury four games ago.

Jose Theodore will be in net.  Peter Budaj got the start in the previous game, but he lost, and Jose's way cuter, so Boots will be back on the bench where he belongs, hopefully just long enough to get traded for some has-been defenseman or some low draft picks the Avs don't need.  And then Theodore, a free agent next season, will sign with the Kings or the Thrashers for a ton of money and the Avs will really be up the creek.  One can hope, right?

The game starts at 7:00 PM Mountain time, 9:00 PM Eastern.  I can't wait to see things get worse for the Avs as they take an early lead and then squander it because they refuse to defy their coach's inept instruction.  Who needs a backbone when it's just the playoffs at stake?  AmIrightoramIright?  OramIright?

ESPN preview.