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Game Preview: Avalanche Vs. Flames

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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Champagne is such a cruel trick. How can something so extraordinarily fun and delicious be so debilitating in the wake of its effect? If you're like me, you spent yesterday being lazy as hell, moving only to reconstitute yourself with regular doses of H20. I'm sure there's a lesson to learned here, but I'm going to forget it anyway.

Hopefully the Colorado Avalanche spent their time more responsibly, because the Calgary Flames are in town to play one of those little hockey match things we enjoy so much. Both teams enjoyed a successful December, with the Avs going 9-3-2 and the Flames going 9-4-0, yet still remain out of playoff contention in their respective divisions. Each team will need to continue their winning ways to climb the standings, though Calgary will have an easier time of it playing in the atrocious Pacific Division. The scoring of Johnny Gaudreau will factor strongly in the Flames' win/loss column. The diminutive second year left wing tallied 12 goals in December, most in the NHL, bringing him to 39 points on the still-young season.

The Avalanche, fresh off an overtime loss to defending champions Chicago, hope to string together a number of victories at home the next couple of weeks. They will travel only once during the next seven games, and their success during this stretch will have considerable bearing on their playoff chances. The team hopes to get defenseman Tyson Barrie back after missing the New Year's Eve matchup against Chicago with the flu (we'll update you as soon as information becomes available). Otherwise, it's tough to know how the lines are going to shake up while Patrick Roy is doing so much juggling. Will the 'Nine-Line' remain banished to disparate groups to help "spread out the scoring?" Who will Iginla and Tanguay allow to play all of the defense this week? Can Batman save Gotham City?

Only Roy knows.