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Tuesday's Practice Report

Forsberg Skates Again; Budaj To Start On Wednesday

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 1:29 PM MT / Features
By Aaron Lopez  - Special to
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Tuesday\'s Practice Report
The Colorado Avalanche will finish up a five-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes – a contest that doubles as the team’s final outing prior to the 2011 NHL All-Star Break.

Needless to say, with it being a game against a conference opponent as well as a team they are chasing in the standings, Wednesday’s contest will be a chance for the Avalanche to make up some valuable ground in the standings. But in the grander scheme of things, Colorado is trying to display some consistency by stringing together consecutive wins while also gaining some confidence heading into the League-wide hiatus.

“The two points are at a premium, there’s no question. More importantly, it’s an opportunity for us to play well again, which would be two games in a row,” said Avalanche head coach Joe Sacco. “Overall I thought our effort was good last night. (It’s also) an opportunity for us to feel good about ourselves heading into the break. I think that’s important.”

Forsberg Update
With veteran Milan Hejduk taking a maintenance day on Tuesday, Peter Forsberg was able to step in and take his spot on a line with Matt Duchene and David Jones during practice. Today marked the fourth consecutive day that Forsberg has been on the ice, and the second full practice he’s had with the team.

“Like I said at the press conference in the beginning, I knew Milan Hejduk was going to be out a couple practices and I could fill into his spot,” said Forsberg. “I’ve only had two practices. They’re quick, they’re fast, and it’s going to take at least a couple more days to adjust. I just have to keep working and we’ll see what happens after a couple more practices.”

Forsberg, who said he will find some ice where he can skate on his own during the All-Star Break, mentioned that today’s practice wasn’t quite as tough as the one the players went through on Sunday.

“A little easier today, I got to catch my breath between drills,” said Forsberg. “Like I said, it was between days and months. I just have to see how long it takes, keep working and do my best every practice.”

Forsberg will not meet with the media again until after the All-Star Break.

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Budaj To Start
Peter Budaj will get the starting nod in goal for Wednesday’s game against Phoenix. The netminder came on in relief of Craig Anderson during Saturday’s loss to the Boston Bruins and then made the start during Colorado’s 4-3 win over the St. Louis Blues on Monday evening. Budaj played well on both occasions, allowing one goal on 11 shots (that tally coming off the skate of one of his defensemen) against the Bruins and then making 21 saves in the victory over the Blues.

“Like I said, Peter is going to play more. I thought that last night he played well,” said Sacco. “He was solid and gave us a chance to win last night.”

Budaj is 7-3-3 with a 2.60 goals-against average in 13 career games against the Coyotes.

Sacco Confident In Stewart
A day after sitting him down for the entire third period against St. Louis, Sacco made clear that he still has confidence in Chris Stewart.

Sacco just believes the forward, who saw just 10:34 of ice time in the victory and ended his last shift with 6:52 remaining in the second period, needs to bring a little more intensity to the ice. Stewart recently made his way back into the lineup after missing 21 games due to a fractured hand suffered in November.

“Chris missed some time this year. He missed over six weeks of action, so I’m not expecting him to be full throttle,” said Sacco. “But I just think Chris needs to obviously continue to play hard. He’s got to make sure there’s intensity in his game. Chris is a big part of our team. We need Chris going in the right direction.”

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O’Reilly Still Skating
Injured center Ryan O’Reilly skated by himself prior to this morning’s practice, but he was not on the ice when the Avalanche began its official practice session. It’s been 11 days since the second-year pro injured his shoulder in a game against the Minnesota Wild. O’Reilly was originally given a rough timeframe of “a couple weeks” to recover from the injury, which could mean that he’ll begin practicing with the team following the All-Star Break. But at the moment, there are no certainties.

“I don’t have a timetable yet, but I think he’s making good progress right now,” noted Sacco. “He’s skating. He’s not participating in any contact drills or anything like that. Like I said, we’ll see how he progresses over the next little while here.”
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