Banged-up Avs face Canucks
The Vancouver Canucks are playing the second of a back-to-back but it might be the Colorado Avalanche that are at a disadvantage.
The Canucks fell to the Stars, 2-1, in Dallas on Friday night and now face a Colorado team that is dealing with injuries. When the puck drops Saturday night the Avalanche will be without No. 1 goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who is out with an upper-body injury.
They'll also play their fifth straight game without captain Gabriel Landeskog because of a lower-body injury. Landeskog skated at practice Friday and was scheduled to be on the ice Saturday morning but has been ruled out.
The silver lining is Landeskog is skating and Varlamov's injury doesn't appear too serious.
"(Varlamov) should be full practice by Sunday," coach Jared Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com.
The other bright spot is Calvin Pickard will get the start. Pickard has played well in relief of Varlamov this season, including a shutout against the Minnesota Wild three weeks ago. He is 4-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average and beat Minnesota 3-2 in his last start a week ago.
Pickard is excited to be playing Saturday because the game will be the second of the Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader.
"As Canadians we all grew up watching it, so it's going to be fun," he told HockeyBuzz.com.
The Avalanche (9-10) recalled goalie Spencer Martin from San Antonio of the AHL to serve as Pickard's backup and reassigned forward A.J. Greer to the Rampage.
Vancouver (8-11-2) is dealing with injuries of its own. Winger Sven Baertschi missed Friday's loss in Dallas because of a toe injury. He took a shot off his skate in the second period of Wednesday's win in Arizona and couldn't play against Dallas. He had a goal and two assists Wednesday and his line combined for eight points.
"It is a little disappointing," linemate Alex Burrows told the Vancouver Sun of Baertschi's injury, which is considered day-to-day. "I saw him get off (the ice) and it was like, shoot, it's too bad because I think we were just starting to peak and we had good things going. Hopefully, he will be fine. It's part of the NHL. You're going to have guys who go out of the lineup. You just have to dig deeper and try to get some chemistry with someone else."
Winger Jack Skille, who played for Colorado last year, returned to the lineup Friday after missing one game.
The Canucks are finishing up a quick three-game road trip before returning home to play the Wild on Tuesday. Vancouver is 4-3-1 in the past seven games and Burrows' line is starting to play well.
They'll have to deal with a confident Pickard, who supplanted Reto Berra as the backup with some fine play last year. He signed a two-year, $2 million contract in the offseason.
"It definitely gives you a sense of comfort," he told HockeyBuzz.com. "But that being said, things change quickly. You have to always stay on your toes and be ready for when you're called upon. Every game's an audition for everybody, so it's another game for me tomorrow to prove that I belong in this league."