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The Colorado Avalanche: News from around the NHL - January 24th, 2014

Mike Stobe

The Avs take on the Panthers tonight.

Season series: This is the second of two games between the Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. Tom Gilbert assisted on three goals and Tim Thomas made 32 saves to lead Florida to a 4-1 victory in Denver on Nov. 16.

Big story: One of the top offenses in the NHL gets another weapon back Friday, as veteran forward Alex Tanguay returns to the Avalanche lineup after missing 36 games due to knee and hip injuries. Even without him for most of the season, Colorado has clicked to the tune of 2.88 goals per game, sixth in the League entering games Thursday.

An outdoor hockey game will be happening in LA this weekend.

Dodger Stadium in mid-January is peaceful after sundown. The distinctive scoreboard is barely visible through the twilight, the air is cool, and the quiet is almost a presence itself.

“We’ve heard coyotes howling late at night,” Dan Craig says.

A ballpark at rest is a pleasant place to be . . . except this one isn’t slumbering. It has an NHL-size hockey rink set in the infield, a beach volleyball court in left field, a small pond in right field, an in-line/street hockey area, and two performance stages waiting to be completed.

All of this activity is for the Stadium Series game to be played between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, the first NHL regular-season outdoor game in the U.S. west of the Rocky Mountains. Puck drop is scheduled for about 7:15 p.m., and Craig has been working the graveyard shift at Dodger Stadium every night the past week to make and maintain the ice for an event that, on first consideration, seems impossible.

While some Olympic hockey players won't be bringing their family, due to safety concerns, Smid's family will be supporting him in person.

Ladislav Smid and his family aren't allowing fear to ruin their Olympic plans.

When the Calgary Flames defenceman heads to Sochi, Russia, for the coming Games and suits up for the Czech Republic, the plan remains for his wife, mother-in-law, parents and sister to be there, too.

"You read a lot of stuff about the security, that it's going to be at a high level there, and stuff like that, but you've got articles that they're looking for people that would like to blow things up, so it's mixed feelings," Smid said Thursday. "You have it in the back of your head something might happen, but you don't want to pay too much attention because it's still the Olympics. It's once every four years, and some guys only experience it once and want to make sure your family sees you."

Amidst fears of terrorism or other unrest, many NHL players won't be bringing their families.