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Game 71: Avalanche At Minnesota, Preview And Open Thread

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Matchavalanche_medium
Vs_medium
Matchwild_medium
Colorado Avalanche
8pm ET / 6pm MT
Minnesota Wild
31-38-1 March 17, 2009
32-29-8
72 points
Xcel Energy Center
63 points
14th in West
St. Paul, MN
11th in West

I'm not going blame this season on the silly way the NHL awards a point to some losing teams but not others, but I do find tonight's matchup to be interesting in that regard. The Minnesota Wild have 32 wins. While they are struggling (4-game losing streak), they are just two points away from the final playoff spot in the West. The Avalanche have a lowly 31 wins (1 less) and are just 3 points ahead of the 2nd worst team in the league.

Tonight's game is the 6th and final meeting of the year between the top two NW teams from last year. The Wild have a 3-2 advantage and have outscored the Avalanche 15-12 (including one shutout). Not that any of that matters, of course.

The last time we saw these teams play, Derek Boogard was a scratch, Cody McCormick and John-Michael Liles were in a cross-checking mood and Cal Clutterbuck was flopping to the ice like he was Peter Forsberg. McCormick's two-game suspension is over, although after he fought Jon Scott in the last game I doubt there'll be any lingering bad stuff. Just in case, I'm recording the Minnesota feed -

Actually, it sounds like Scott may be a scratch, as Carp, Ontario native Kurtis Foster is expected to be in the lineup tonight. Foster has missed most of the season after that horrific broken leg he suffered last year. Foster returned on March 7th, but hasn't played since. I believe Jacques Lemaire has been sitting Foster to get Scott into the lineup, but that's just what I soaked up from a few articles so I could be totally wrong there.

For the Avs, your guess is as good as mine about the lineup. Up front, Chris Stewart, Tyler Arnason, TJ Hensick have all been a healthy scratch in at least one of the last 3 games, and, of course, McCormick missed the weekend to the suspension. On defense, Adam Foote is still out. No word (that I've seen) on Daniel Tjarnqvist, but the Avalanche have recalled both Michael Vernace and Derek Peltier and it's possible that both players will make their NHL debuts tonight (a bit of a scary thought, but it's not like we are facing an offensive juggernaut). Vernace wears #41, Peltier #50, so keep an eye out.

The expected starters are Peter Budaj and Nik Backstrom.


Peter Budaj

#31 / Goalie / Colorado Avalanche

6-1

200

Sep 18, 1982



GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Peter Budaj 48 2757 19 26 1 5 133 2.89 1303 1170 .898 1



Niklas Backstrom

#32 / Goalie / Minnesota Wild

6-1

196

Feb 13, 1978



GP MIN W L T EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2008 - Niklas Backstrom 59 3391 30 20 7 3 135 2.39 1701 1566 .921 6