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Game 74: Avalanche At Wild, Preview And Open Thread

THE STRETCH RUN BEGINS

Well, kiddos, every game matters now.  Every game is a must-win---even the games against Edmonton.

The Avs are 2-3 so far this season against the Wild, but they've won eight of their last ten and are finally getting healthy again.  Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote are both expected to return to the lineup (I have no time for "maybe"), and Paul Stastny's groin seems to be doing just fine, if his two points and 22 minutes of ice time against New Jersey are any indication.

Jose Theodore and the Avalanche defense looked weak in the Devils game on Saturday, so hopefully the return of Foote will tighten up the loose ends and remind the others how well they are capable of playing.  Theodore I don't worry about too much anymore.  He'll either be fine or he'll be on some other team next year.  Either way, it will ultimately work out fine for the Avs.

The line juggling should be truly epic tonight, since Q has already switched Hejduk, Smyth and Hlinka around to play with different centers, Hlinka being kind of on a hot streak of sorts (minus the Devils game), Forsberg being back and Cody McLeod being a shady prick.  I'm not even going to try to predict who will play with whom.

Finally, the Wild are a tough team, but they're vulnerable.  They've lost four of their last five (including three lost shootouts), and their defense-first strategy can be  overcome.  Their offense is weak (they haven't scored more than three goals in a game since February 17th, against Nashville in OT).  They're beatable, if the Avalanche offense can get its act together.

The game starts at 5:00 PM Mountain time, 7:00 PM Eastern.  Be here or be at the game.  You only have two options.

ESPN preview.