The Avalanche’s two leading scorers, linemates Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla, are a little banged up but are expected to play Tuesday in Dallas in yet another crucial Western Conference game.
Tanguay, who has 13 goals and 34 points in 48 games, practiced Monday with a bruised left hand. Iginla, who has 16 goals and 33 points in 50 games, was given the day off for treatment and to rest a bruised leg.
Both blocked shots Friday in the Avalanche’s 3-0 win against Nashville.
“It’s been better,” Tanguay said of his hand, which he reached back to stop the puck. “It was just a reaction play. I was lucky that (his hand) wasn’t against my body. If it’s up against my body it’s probably worse damage than that. It feels OK, just a bruise.
“You’re going to the point and you’re trying to block the shot. Most times you’re close enough that the shot’s going to go somewhere by your pads. This one, I didn’t look at the replay to see if I was farther away. It is what it is.”
Coach Patrick Roy said Iginla has been sore the past two days after he blocked a Predators shot near the end of the third period.
“We thought it would be a good idea to give him a day off to be ready for (Tuesday) night,” Roy said. “The plan is for him to play.”
The Tanguay-Matt Duchene-Iginla line combined for three goals (all from Iginla) and six assists in he past three games, with Tanguay and Duchene each collecting three assists. Duchene has a four-game streak going with a goal and three assists.
The Avalanche (21-18-11) went 7-3-3 in January and are 12-5-5 since Dec. 11, but they’re 11th in the Western Conference, four points (57-53) behind Calgary, which holds the second wild-card playoff spot. The Flames have a 24-15 lead in non-shootout wins, so realistically the Avalanche need to finish with more points.
Los Angeles is ninth with 54 points, has played one fewer game than Colorado and has 20 non-shootout wins. Dallas is 10th with 53 points, has played one fewer game and has 21 non-shootout wins.
“In our situation, we have to be desperate,” Tanguay said. “We’re on the outside looking in and in order for us to cross that line where we’re finally inside the playoffs, we have to win some games and be desperate and certainly (Tuesday) night is a great example of that. We know we’re not going to run the table to the end of the year; we’re going to lose some games. But we know the importance of that one and I’m sure they do as well.”
The Avalanche will play the Stars three times in February, Minnesota twice, and Los Angeles and Winnipeg once each. They’ll also play Arizona, Chicago and Nashville once this month.
“It’s a big month for us,” Roy said. “There’s a lot of conference games, but I really like the way we played the last two games against Nashville. I thought the team played some sound hockey. We were smart in our decision-making and solid in our end.
“Offensively I thought our forecheck was good. I like the energy. The guys are picking up some confidence by picking up three points against Nashville. Right now I just feel that the guys are excited. We’re looking for help (from other teams to lose) but at the same time there’s (32) games left and it’s good for us to focus on what we have to do. We’re focusing on our games. It’s going to be a heck of a battle to the end.”
Roy said he’ll use the same lineup Tuesday as in Friday’s game, so defenseman Stefan Elliott will sit again.
“I hope that we’re going to play Elliott at some point,” he said. “We might go seven D one night, I don’t know when. We’re going to let him practice. If we feel he’s ready to go, we might give him a shot.” Follow @RickS7