Joe Sakic's date with a snowblower has the future Hall of Famer out of action until March - and perhaps out of his last visit to Washington. Paul Stastny, while he was able to return to practice with the Avalanche Thursday before the team headed east, he won't be skating against Washington Friday night either. And John-Michael Liles, the team's leading point-getter from the blueline, was injured in Colorado's win Sunday against Detroit and also will be out of the lineup.
Despite their injury woes, however, Colorado is still carrying a two-game win streak into town, beating the Red Wings in a shootout and the Senators in overtime in its last two games. They sit tied with St. Louis and Phoenix with 55 points, seven points off the pace in the West - but looking up at the rest of the conference as well.
With the Avs' April hopes uncertain, management will have only a dozen days to decide to try to make a run at the pack, or look to rebuild and trade a commodity like Jordan Leopold, who is a free-agent at the end of the year and could help a team looking for a puck-moving defenseman.
Andrew Raycroft will get the start for Colorado, while Washington will almost certainly start Jose Theodore, who certainly will be motivated to play well against his ex-teammates in his first game against the Avs since leaving Denver as a free-agent last summer.
"We players have some pride, and when we see they don't make that extra effort to really show you that they want you, then you decide, 'Hey, I'm going to move on.'"
"A couple of days before [July 1] I was really disappointed in [Colorado's offer] so I had some discussions directly with Francois, but even in the discussion, some of the things he would bring up, I was really disappointed."
In the second game of the five-game homestand, Washington will need to avoid looking ahead to Sunday's match against the Penguins (not to mention Tuesday's third meeting of the season against the Flyers) and take care of business against a very streaky club. While the Avs seemed in danger of falling out of contention a week ago, they've earned wins over the Wings on the road and then returned home for a victory over the Senators, and open up a long six-game trip in D.C.