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Avalanche Vs. Ducks: Colorado Faces Tough Challenge Against Streaking Anaheim

The Colorado Avalanche are doing their part to make sure this season turns into a success. Peter Mueller's healthy return has given the club a much needed boost on the ice, and that success has translated into success in the standings. After soundly defeating the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, Colorado hops on a bus north to face the Anaheim Ducks, their second game in two nights.

The Ducks have undergone a nightmare first half of the season. Long-tenured coach Randy Carlyle was fired after 24 games, goalie Jonas Hiller was inconsistent, and star players Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan simply weren't producing at their expected levels. The month of January has turned all of that around, as the Ducks have morphed into one of the most dangerous teams in the NHL, with a 7-0-1 record in their past eight games.

What has been the catalyst for this dramatically improved play? Start with the players at the top, as the Ducks' offense has gone absolutely nuclear this month. Corey Perry has eight goals in the past 10 games, Bobby Ryan has five goals in that span, and Saku Koive leads the entire team with 11 points over the past 10 games. In all, 11 Ducks have five or more points in the past 10 games. As a team, they have scored four or more goals in six of their past games.

This will be a very tough challenge for Colorado. Though the addition of Mueller to the lineup has certainly helped of late, the Avalanche still don't have the top end forward talent to consistently survive high scoring games. A repeat of the strong defensive effort displayed against the Kings will be tantamount, as well as a strong goaltending effort from Semyon Varlamov, who is likely to get the start.

Puck drops at 6:00 p.m. MDT

For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Ducks blog Anaheim Calling. For news and notes from around the NHL, visit SB Nation's NHL news hub.