Hope everyone had a great Christmas and is ready to get back to hockey.
The Avalanche have been off since their 5-0 win Tuesday against St. Louis and will return to the ice for the morning skate Saturday at the Pepsi Center to prepare for that night's game against Chicago.
Coach Patrick Roy
said early in the week that rookie goalie Calvin Pickard
would start against the Blackhawks. Roy hasn't said what the Avalanche's plans for Pickard are beyond this game, but they'll likely return him to Lake Erie in the AHL and hand the backup role back to Reto Berra
Assuming that's the case, look for Semyon Varlamov
to play a ton the rest of the way. He'd best stay healthy. The Avalanche won't play back-to-back games again until Jan. 12-13 at Washington and Carolina. If Berra gets the second game of the set against the Hurricanes, it'll be six weeks since his last appearance. He relieved Varlamov in the third period Dec. 5 at Winnipeg.
Pickard made 42 saves in a 3-2 loss to Chicago on Nov. 26 when Bryan Bickell
broke a 2-2 tie with 5:17 remaining in the third period. The Avalanche were outshot 45-29 in that game.
The Avalanche (13-13-8) will take a season-best three-game winning streak into Saturday's game. They're 4-0-2 in the past six games and 7-7-3 on home ice for the season. With 34 points, they're seven behind Los Angeles, which is holding the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
The Blackhawks are first in the West with a 23-10-2 record and 48 points.
A warm Colorado welcome -- despite the snow and cold that arrived Christmas night -- to eight members of the Eurolanche Fan Club who were scheduled to touch down in Denver on Friday night.
They'll attend six Avalanche home games and the Jan. 6 game in Chicago during a 17-day stay. They'll start with Saturday's game against the Blackhawks and end the trip with an afternoon game against Dallas on Saturday, Jan. 10.
This is the club's seventh such "Invasion."
Led by president David Puchovsky
, the club has 469 members from 34 countries. The eight-member traveling group includes Puchovsky, Juraj Culak, Stanka Culakova, Norbert Grubert, Michaela Masarykova, Rudolf Sery, Brano Svec
and Tomas Vunk
Grubert is from Austria and the others are from Slovakia.
The group has a very busy itinerary during its stay, including a tour of Sports Authority Field at Mile High; visiting the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, ski resorts and Colorado Springs; meeting former Avalanche forward Scott Parker
at his barber shop; taking in a Nuggets game; celebrating New Year's; trips to Aspen, Glenwood Springs and the Red Rocks amphitheater.
Our visitors will also attend some Avalanche morning skates and off-day practices.
There's plenty of information on the official Eurolanche web site.
Check it out.