The Colorado Avalanche had their five game winning streak snapped on Tuesday night, 4-1, against the visiting Winnipeg Jets. It was their second game in two days and they were faced with an unusual travel schedule. Their opponent on Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes, face a similar challenge.
Phoenix has been surprisingly solid this year after the loss of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to Philadelphia. Journeyman Mike Smith has been a very stable presence in net this season, but will be unavailable in Thursday's game at Pepsi Center due to injury. Instead, Colorado will likely see emergency callup Curtis McElhinney for his first start of the season.
The Coyote veterans have been their best players this season, as the ageless Shane Doan continues to produce at a high level. Veterans Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney lead the team in goals and points respectively, and are enjoying fine seasons with Phoenix.
For Colorado, the loss to Winnipeg allows Coach Joe Sacco to make some lineup changes. Defenseman Kyle Quincey has been a healthy scratch for the past week, but he will on the ice against Phoenix. Forward Chuck Kobasew is finally healthy enough to come off the Injured Reserve list and will get playing time instead of rookie Brad Malone. Goalie Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net, his second of the week after impressively defeating the Minnesota Wild on Monday.
Puck drops at 7:00 p.m. MDT
For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Coyotes blog Five For Howling.