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Ice Breakers: Bruins-Avalanche, Saturday January 22nd

The Bruins (26-14-7) head west to the Rockies today for a Saturday matinee at the Pepsi Center, to skate against Ray Bourque’s other former team, the Colorado Avalanche (24-17-6).

The B’s are coming off a lazy loss to the Buffalo Thursday at home, falling 4-2 at the hands of Ryan Miller and the Sabres. Boston scored first, which usually bodes well for the B’s, but Buffalo fired back, coming from behind on two different occasions to score the victory. It was only the second time this season that the Bruins lost in regulation when scoring first (18-2-3). With Montreal’s big 7-1 win over Ottawa Friday night, the Habs and B’s are now just separated by a single point in the standings atop the Northeast Division.

Colorado on the other hand, is fighting for playoff positioning in the hotly contested Western Conference. They currently sit in a tie with Chicago for seventh in the West, but have just a one-point advantage over both Minnesota and San Jose. The Avalanche are also coming off a tough loss Thursday night, getting pummeled by the Nashville Predators, 5-1.

Time to roll with some pre-game notes to get you ready for this afternoon’s action…

  • These two teams met just once last season, in early October, with Colorado prevailing 4-3 at TD Garden. This will be the only meeting of these two squads this season.
  • Today’s game marks the first time defenseman Matt Hunwick will face his former team. Hunwick was traded to the ‘Lanche earlier this season to clear cap space. Since arriving in Colorado, the young blueliner has put up just three assists and no goals to go along with a -9 rating in 23 games.
  • The Avalanche got some very bad news earlier this week when they learned that another one of their recent acquisitions, forward Tomas Fleischmann, would be lost for the season. Tests showed two blood clots formed in his lungs, and so because he’ll have to be on blood thinners for the next few months, the forward’s season is over. Fleischmann had 21 points in the 22 games he had played with Colorado this season, since coming over from Washington. Also out for the season with a shoulder injury is defenseman Kyle Quincey. Forward Ryan O’Reilly is sidelined with a shoulder injury as well, but he should be back soon.
  • Both teams had morning skates today, but all the focus was on one old man in a gray Colorado practice jersey. #21, Peter Forsberg, joined the Avalanche for the first time, skating with the team as he tries to mount a comeback to the NHL. Forsberg played for Colorado for nearly his entire career, even dating back to when the team was in Quebec as the Nordiques. With so many injury issues on the roster, Colorado would likely welcome back Forsberg in a heartbeat, if he proves that he’s healthy enough to make a go of it.
  • Colorado’s scoring is led by center Matt Duchene (19G, 25A), winger Milan Hejduk (15G, 25A), and center Paul Stastny (16G, 24A).
  • Their goaltending tandem features Craig Anderson (13-10-3, 3.05GAA) and Peter Budaj (11-7-3, 3.12GAA). One of them will face Boston’s likely starter, Tim Thomas, who has won his last four starts.
  • While both teams rank in the league’s top ten in scoring (Colorado is fourth at 3.19 goals/gm.; Boston is seventh at 3.04 G/gm.), they are at opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to defense. Boston ranks first in the NHL at 2.17 goals against per game, while Colorado is down at 28th out of 30 teams, giving up 3.21 goals per contest.
  • Lastly, the alternate captains for the upcoming NHL All Star Game were announced yesterday, with four superstars getting the nod. Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Tampa’s Martin St. Louis, Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler, and Washington’s Mike Green will join team captains Eric Staal and Niklas Lidstrom when the action gets rolling next weekend in Raleigh, N.C.

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