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Game 26: Avalanche @ Flames

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The injury plagued Avalanche (9-11-5) get their star goaltender back as they head to Calgary to take on the red hot Flames (16-8-2).

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

It's been a season of good news, bad news for the Avalanche. The good news for Thursday is that the Avs get back their star goaltender, Semyon Varlamov. The bad news? Well, there's a good bit of it.

First, the Avs had to send down their budding goaltender prospect, Calvin Pickard. While many people have argued that Pickard should have stayed with the Avalanche rather than Reto Berra, I understand the move. Despite the fact that Pickard is clearly the better NHL goalie right now, the game is still a business and Berra is still an asset. Berra could be claimed off waivers if sent down, making the Avs lose an asset. Pickard was the safe choice from a business standpoint. Rest assured though, Pickard has proved himself and I think he'll be in the NHL backing up Varlamov before that three year contract of Berra's expires (can you say trade bait?).

The second bit of bad news for the Avs is that they still have a plethora of injuries. With the Avs being shorthanded up front, denfenseman Nick Holden will be moved up to play the wing on the fourth line. With Holden struggling on the back-end, perhaps this will be an opportunity for him to loosen up.

The third bit of bad news is the Avs opponent Thursday night. The Avs will be kicking off a back-to-back Canadian trip against the surprising yet red hot Calgary Flames. The Flames are coming off a 5-2 victory Tuesday night against, you guessed it, the Arizona Coyotes. The Flames will be looking to extend their win streak to four while their coach, former Avalanche head coach, Bob Hartley looks for another four; four hundred that is. With a win Thursday, Hartley will pick up his 400th win as a coach. Not bad for a guy from the windshield factory. But what Hartley has the overacheiving Flames doing may just get him a Jack Adams trophy this year. Sitting just one point out of first place in the Western Conference, the team that many people picked to finish last in the West if not the whole league has proved that they are no basement dwellers.

LINES

O'Reilly-Duchene-Tanguay

Landeskog-MacKinnon-Iginla

Vincour-Talbot-Briere

McLeod-Sgarbossa-Holden

Hejda-Johnson

Guenin-Barrie

Stollery-Redmond

Varlamov

Berra

GAME INFO

Game time: 7pm, MT

TV: ALT, SN1, TVA2

And how about a shout out to the late great Jean Beliveau? Rest in Peace.