There are 31 scheduled regular season games remaining for the Colorado Avalanche, and they begin the post-All Star Break half of the schedule Tuesday night against their division rivals, the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers have found themselves slipping in the standings the past two months and now find themselves at the bottom of the Northwest Division once again. Edmonton is currently on pace for a top three pick in the 2012 June Amateur Draft-- the third straight year the Oilers would pick that high after selecting first overall in 2010 and 2011. Rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hasn't played since January 2 (shoulder injury) but still is second on the team in points and assists.
For Colorado, the Avalanche are hoping that the long break will help rest tired bodies and get the team back on track. Despite the successful return of Peter Mueller from injury, the team has missed the dynamic offensive ability of forward Matt Duchene. Center Paul Stastny is finally heating up (nine points in the past 10 games) but Colorado desperately needs another playmaker to remain in the playoff hunt. With the two losses before the All Star game, Colorado has been passed by division rival Minnesota and currently sit 9th in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche currently hold a 2-10 record against the rest of the Northwest Division, a major reason they are fighting for a playoff spot. If that number doesn't dramatically improve the remainder of the season, Colorado will be watching the playoffs from home.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m. MDT
For more coverage, visit our Avalanche blog Mile High Hockey and our Oilers blog Copper N' Blue