Injuries are hardly ever a good thing for a team, but they do lead to an opportunity for other players to step up and show what they can do.
Barrie (Sunday) and Malone (Monday) were recalled to the NHL the past few days after playing some good hockey recently with the Lake Erie Monsters. Barrie had three assists in six games since being sent down to the AHL on Nov. 4, while Malone was one of the top scorers on the Lake Erie with eight points (four goals, four assists) this season.
With center Matt Duchene out at least a week with an oblique injury and defenseman Ryan Wilson's back injury continuing to linger, Colorado head coach Patrick Roy had to reshuffle his lines for the matchup with Chicago.
Malone will make his season debut at wing on the fourth line with Patrick Bordeleau on the other side and Marc-Andre Cliche at center. However, Malone is a natural center and could play up the middle in some situations against the Blackhawks.
"It's a great opportunity for Malone to play with Bordy and Cliche as a center," Roy said. "I'm curious to see how they do against [Chicago's] third and fourth-line guys."
Malone is a physical forward and isn't afraid to get tangled up with the other team. He had 16 penalty minutes in 13 NHL games last season and had 25 penalty minutes this year with the Monsters.
"Just keep it simple," Malone said of his approach for tonight. "I don't think there is anything too special about it. Get pucks out, get pucks in, try and be physical. Just try and bring some energy to the bench and on the ice."
Barrie began the season with the Avalanche but went through a six-game stretch where he was a healthy scratch before playing in what was his last NHL game on Oct. 27 against Winnipeg.
"It was tough there to not be playing for awhile, but I guess it was good for me to go down there (Lake Erie) and get some games [in]," Barrie said. "I'm back to where I want to be, and I'm playing tonight so I'll try and make the most of that."
Barrie will be paired with Nick Holden on defense, and Roy said he's looking for the Avs' third-round selection from the 2009 draft to play a smart game against the Hawks.
"I don't want to see high-risk play," Roy said. "I want him to play the percentage and have him have a good reading of the situation. Go on the rush no problem, but when it's time to be back, be back. Sometimes he is forcing plays that are not there."
Tonight's game against the Blackhawks is a big one for Barrie and Malone.
They'll be facing the current NHL titleholders, and for Barrie, it's against the club he made his NHL debut against on Feb. 7, 2012. But it's also another NHL game and a chance for the players to prove that they belong in the big leagues.
AVALANCHE SPOTLIGHT ON: RYAN O'REILLY
Colorado center-turned-winger Ryan O'Reilly has found his scoring stride over the last two weeks.
The 22-year-old has seven points (five goals, two assists) in his last seven contests and has scored in each of the Avalanche's last two games. He had Colorado's lone goal Saturday in a 4-1 loss to the Florida Panthers.
O'Reilly played mostly at center in his first four years in the NHL, but coach Patrick Roy put the forward out of his comfort zone and moved him to left wing, where he has played on a line with Matt Duchene and PA Parenteau for most of the season.
The move has paid off so far as O'Reilly leads the team in shots on goal (64) and takeaways (22), is second in goals (eight) and ranks first among Avs forwards in ice time (19:53).
"Playing with my linemates, you get tons of opportunity. I have been getting some lucky bounces," O'Reilly said. "I think it's just working hard with those guys. They're giving me opportunities all over the ice so it’s a real credit to my linemates, who have been playing phenomenal. At the same time, just trying to get around the net and pick up any loose trash."
O'Reilly and Landeskog were on the same line two seasons ago, and O'Reilly ended up with 55 points to lead the team in scoring while Landeskog went on to win the Calder Trophy as the league's rookie of the year.
"I always love playing with him," O'Reilly said of Landeskog. "He's a big body, always does everything right on the ice. It's simple for me; I can give him the puck and go to the net. Hopefully, we can have success tonight."
MORE MORNING NOTES
-Semyon Varlamov is expected to get the start in net for Colorado tonight versus Chicago. Varlamov owns a 2.64 goal-against average and a .916 save percentage in six career games against the Blackhawks.
-Cory Sarich will be a healthy scratch for tonight's game. According to Roy, the move is to give Sarich a day of rest. Matt Hunwick is expected to be the other healthy scratch for the club.
-Matt Duchene will miss his first game of the season with an oblique injury, suffered in the third period of Saturday's loss to Florida. Roy did give some good news on the injury after morning skate, as Duchene will be on the upcoming road trip in Phoenix and Los Angeles. While he looks to be definitely out for Thursday's game in the desert, Duchene could play in Southern California. Duchene was originally going to be out at least a week.
-Patrick Roy will face another former coach of his tonight in Joel Quenneville, the current head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks. Quenneville was an assistant coach for Colorado during the team's 1995-96 Stanley Cup championship run before being hired as the head coach of St. Louis the next season.
Roy said of Quenneville on Monday: "I played for Joel in [1995-96], and that’s the first time I met him, and since that day I have a lot of respect for him. I’ve been learning a lot from him. I had no doubt in my mind that he would turn out to be a great NHL coach, and that’s been the case. He’s won two Stanley Cups for Chicago. It’s speaks for itself."
-Paul Stastny needs one point to tie Valeri Kamensky (414) for eighth place on the franchise's all-time scoring list. Stastny is also tied with Dale Hunter (142) for eighth place on the franchise's all-time goals list.
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