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Avalanche Schedule Preview: Coyotes, Stars, And Flames Incoming

Colorado begins a home-heavy November schedule.

It was Backwards Week for the Colorado Avalanche last week, as they lost their first road game and won their first home game. Despite going 1-2 for the week, the Avalanche remain in solid position within the Western Conference and only two points behind the division-leading Edmonton Oilers.

With that in mind, here's a preview of the upcoming games this week:

November 2nd vs Phoenix Coyotes - The Phoenix Coyotes were a playoff team last season due mainly to an excellent season from goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. After he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers, many experts picked the Coyotes to live near the bottom of the Conference standings. Shane Doan, Keith Yandle, and Ray Whitney are ensuring that doesn't happen. They don't have a great offense, but they have a solid defensive system and solid quality pieces in place. Phoenix is constantly overlooked, but they are a tough and competitive team playing in an incredibly tough division -- no easy points here.

November 4th at Dallas Stars - The Dallas Stars were another team that was going to be terrible this year. They lost stud forward Brad Richards to free agency, have few recognizable names, and have the league's lowest payroll. Oh, and they also lead the Pacific Division and are tied with Edmonton for most points in the Conference. How? Kari Lehtonen has turned into an absolute star goaltender the last couple of seasons. The former first round pick in 2002 has a .947 SV% so far, and is giving his team a great chance to win every single game. Throw in some shrewd offseason signings like Michael Ryder, and you have a deep team that will wear you down.

November 6th vs Calgary Flames - Get used to plenty of games against Calgary. These divisional foes were having a dreadful October, but have used a season-long homestand to make their way back to mediocrity. With their record currently at 4-4-1 (good enough for last place in the Northwest Division), the Flames must now stay afloat on the road despite trade rumors surrounding the team -- especially Rene Bourque, who leads the team with five goals.