Found January 30, 2012 on Race Review Online:

Welcome to Avalanche Warning, my new weekly feature on the Northwest Division's Colorado Avalanche.  Today, I will look at the week ahead for the Avalanche coming out of the All-Star break.  The Avs should be a well-rested group after sending only Gabriel Landeskog to the all-star weekend and even he shouldn't be the worse for wear as he did not play in the All-Star Game itself and only participated in one of the skills events.  He did however, do exceptionally well in the relay competition.  The highlights in that event were him and Pavel Datsyuk.  Expect many more All-Star Games for #92.   Many Avalanche players used the All-Star break for a rare mid-season vacation.  T.J. Galiardi and Ryan Wilson were accompanied by former Avs Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to Cabo, Mexico and David Jones went to Mexico as well, with his wife.  Shane O'Brien enjoyed his status as a single, 20-something guy up in Aspen and Matt Duchene went up to Vail to do some fishing.    An 82-game regular season can be a very grueling one and can certainly take its toll on players physically as well as emotionally.  Hopefully this five-day rest will rejuvenate each and every Avalanche player and they will come ready to play for the stretch run.  The team reconvenes for practice today at 2:00pm.   As I've mentioned almost ad nauseum by now, the Avs absolutely must improve upon their abysmal 2-9 divisional record.  They will get a chance to do so right out of the gate tomorrow night in Edmonton.  The Oilers got off to a very hot start in October, but have since come crashing back down to earth and currently find themselves as the bottom-feeders in the Northwest Division and in the penultimate spot in the overall NHL standings.  However, this will not be an easy matchup for Colorado.  Edmonton will be a well-rested group as well and they will be on their home ice tomorrow night.  Although rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is out of the lineup with a shoulder injury, the Oilers still boast plenty of young talent, much like the Avs.  All-Star Jordan Eberle leads the team with 45 points in 45 games and 2010's first overall pick, Taylor Hall is a very dangerous scoring threat.  Edmonton also has veteran winger and Avalanche-killer, Ryan Smyth, who has played well against Colorado his entire career, save for the brief time he played for the Avs.  Edmonton's goalies, veteran Nikolai Khabibulin and up-and-coming Devan Dubnyk also both play very well against the Avs.  The Avs' offense will need plenty of quality shots on goal in order to solve whomever is in net for the Oil. Although it has not yet been confirmed, Semyon Varlamov should get the start.  His last appearance came over two full weeks ago in a loss to Phoenix and veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere has started for the Avs in every game since.  Jiggy however, is coming off two straight losses against Anaheim and Minnesota.  Varly has handled riding the pine for the past two weeks very professionally.  I have no doubt he has been working on his game very hard in practice and hopefully with goaltending coach Kirk McLean to get back into his groove.  We've seen flashes and when Varly is on a hot streak, he can be just as good an any goalie in the league.  Let's give him a shot to get back on the right track against Edmonton tomorrow night.   While he is expected back sooner rather than later, the Avalanche will not have the services of Matt Duchene tomorrow night.  He was injured on December 29th, with the official party line being "out at least a month."  As of the All-Star break, he had not resumed skating.  He did tweet this morning, "Back to work today, pushing hard to get healthy and get back on the ice"  Getting Duchene back healthy and the continued health and production of Peter Mueller will be a big boost for this Colorado offense.  The Avs have gone 6-5-1 minus Duchene.   After the matchup with Edmonton tomorrow night, the Avs will return home for a four-game homestand.  It will be the first time the Avs will have consecutive home games since December.  On Thursday, the Minnesota Wild visit Pepsi Center and on Saturday, the Northwest Division-leading Vancouver Canucks roll into town.  Again, this is exactly why divisional wins will be crucial for the Avs' success.


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