Coyotes visit Avalanche in clash of struggling teams

Teams usually take a day off after playing on consecutive days but for the struggling Colorado Avalanche, there are no breaks when trying to turn things around.

After beating Minnesota at home Saturday and losing at St. Louis on Sunday, the Avalanche were practicing Monday morning.

Granted both weekend games were matinees, but putting players on the ice right away — with the Arizona Coyotes in town Tuesday night — speaks to Colorado's struggles.

The biggest problem right now is scoring. Colorado has three goals in the last four games but was able to win one of them 1-0 because of Calvin Pickard's 32-save shutout against the Wild.

“We've got to look at each other and look at ourselves in the mirror,” defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. “We can all get more. It's not one, two, three, four guys; it's everybody that's got to step up their game. When we all play together we're a good team but when we were down a few guys things are not working. We really need everybody to work hard and help make the system out.”

The Avalanche were without fourth-line forward Blake Comeau for Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Blues because of a groin injury. His status for Tuesday has not been announced.

The remedy for their struggles might be another team that is struggling. The Coyotes are off to a disappointing 4-7 start and were dominated by Anaheim in a 5-1 loss Friday.

That prompted a spirited practice Sunday.

“I hope they're frustrated,” coach Dave Tippet told the Arizona Republic. “You look at our record, we're not near what we're capable of.”

Like the Avalanche, the Coyotes are dealing with injuries. Center Martin Hanzal won't play against Colorado because of a lower-body injury that has kept him out of the last two games. He has not started skating but the team hopes he can return within the week.

Arizona could get defenseman Michael Stone back in the lineup. Stone has missed the last four games with an upper-body injury.

Stone took part in some of Sunday's practice, which the team hopes will kick start an upward swing.

“I felt like we needed a practice like that, and I think everybody battled hard,” defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson told the Arizona Republic. “That's all we have to do, especially after a game like the other night. We didn't show up at all. We didn't play good enough, we didn't try hard enough, so I think that was a good practice to get it out of our system and move forward here.”

Colorado has won only two games in two weeks, and one of them came in Arizona on Oct. 29.

The Avalanche will play Tuesday's game with heavy hearts after it was announced Marek Svatos, who played seven seasons in Colorado, died Saturday night. He is survived by his wife, Diana, and two children.

Center Matt Duchene and forward Cody McLeod are the only remaining Avalanche to be teammates with Svatos. Team vice president and governor Joe Sakic played five seasons with Svatos and was shaken by the news.

“Only 34. It's sad,” Sakic told The Denver Post. “We feel for Diana and the boys and his family, and our condolences go out to them. It's tough. It's tough for them.”