Bruins-Avalanche Preview

The Colorado Avalanche had bigger things than hockey on their

minds during their most recent game – and it showed.

They’ll hope to move on without ailing forward Tomas Fleischmann

and put forth a better effort Saturday against the Boston Bruins,

who haven’t lost in regulation on the road in more than a

month.

Fleischmann has sparked Colorado (24-17-6) since arriving in a

trade from Washington on Nov. 30, posting 21 points in 22 games –

second on the team in that stretch to Matt Duchene.

But the Avalanche learned before Thursday’s 5-1 home loss to

Nashville that Fleischmann has blood clots in his lungs that will

sideline him for the rest of the season. Colorado trailed 2-0 after

one period and didn’t score until Duchene’s goal with 3:37 to

play.

“That’s tough,” teammate Paul Stastny said. “I don’t think you

think much about hockey when you lose a player like that.”

While Fleischmann takes blood thinners to deal with what general

manager Greg Sherman called a “serious condition,” the Avalanche

hope they can replace his production. They’ve already dealt with

injuries this season to Chris Stewart and Milan Hejduk, among

others.

“Obviously, it’s a big (blow),” Duchene said. “He has been one

of our best forwards.

“It’s tough to lose a guy like that, but we’ve been a team all

year that’s pressed forward when we’ve had injuries.”

Colorado’s offense should be tested by Boston, which has allowed

an NHL-low 102 goals.

The Bruins (26-14-7) are 5-0-3 away from home since a 4-3 loss

at Montreal on Dec. 16.

Tim Thomas was in net for that game, a rare blemish on a 12-1-4

road record for the runaway NHL leader in goals-against average

(1.83) and save percentage (.945). In his last start, Thomas made a

season-high 43 saves in Tuesday’s 3-2 win at Carolina.

Tuukka Rask played in Thursday’s 4-2 home loss to Buffalo. The

Bruins, who averaged 4.8 goals while winning five of their previous

six, had 40 shots but struggled to solve reigning Vezina Trophy

winner Ryan Miller.

“If you look at our record for the last month and a half, two

months, it’s been pretty consistent,” coach Claude Julien said. “I

don’t think it’s a matter of exploding our hockey club because we

had a tough night, it’s a matter of acknowledging it and hopefully

correcting it by playing a real good solid game next game.”

While Boston has gotten nine goals from five different

defensemen in its last five games, some of the team’s top forwards

are struggling. Milan Lucic leads the Bruins with 17 goals but has

one in his last 14 games, while Nathan Horton has scored once on 46

shots in his last 17.

The duo combined for 26 goals in Boston’s first 28 games.

Horton, stuffed on a breakaway against the Sabres, was a

teammate of Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson for three seasons with

Florida.

In his first season with Colorado in 2009-10, Anderson was

22-12-3 with a 2.41 GAA at home to help the Avs reach the playoffs.

That success has eluded him lately; he’s 1-5-1 with a 3.58 GAA in

his last seven starts in Denver.

This is teams’ only meeting this season and their first since

the Avalanche won 4-3 in Boston on Oct. 12, 2009.

The Bruins, who play four of their next six against Western

Conference opponents, are 1-3-2 in interconference matchups and

none were true road games.

Colorado is 8-3-4 against the East.

Duchene, the Avs’ leader with 19 goals and 44 points, is one

point shy of 100 for his two-year career.