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Scouting the Avalanche



Can't wait until tomorrow to read the Canucks.com Tale of the Tape preview? Here's a sneak peak of the scouting report versus the Avalanche.

It seems that midnight may be about to strike for the Avalanche's Cinderella start to the season if it hasn't already.

<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/nov1409_faces_t.jpg" class="imageFloatLeftFramed">The Avs have just one win in their last five games and, for the most part, have not looked good in the losses. One positive for the Avs is that their offence is continuing to click. They scored three times against a tough Flames squad to open their road trip on Tuesday and found the net four times on Wednesday in a losing effort to the Oilers.

The return of Milan Hejduk to the lineup has certainly been a welcome sight. Hejduk missed two games earlier in the season with a back injury but has three goals in his last two games. Hejduk's move off the top line and onto a unit with rookie Matt Duchene also gives the Avs a chance to spread around some of their offence and force the opposition's defence to focus on more than just the top unit featuring Paul Stastny and Wojtek Wolski.

Keeping pucks out of the net has been a different story.

<img src="http://cdn.nhl.com/canucks/images/upload/2009/11/nov1409_mats_t.jpg" class="imageFloatRightFramed">It would have been easy to chalk up their eight goals allowed to the Canucks six nights ago as an aberration were it not for the fact that defensive lapses have occurred more often than not over the last five games. They gave up five goals to the Oilers on November 8th, rebounded with a better defensive effort in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Blackhawks on November 11th, had that forgettable night against the Canucks on November 14th, seemed to right the ship with a 3-2 win in Calgary this past Tuesday, but then gave up six goals to the Oilers in a loss on Wednesday.

Based on this recent pattern, tonight's meeting should shape up to be a much tighter, relatively lower-scoring affair and that certainly seems more likely with Craig Anderson expected to return to the crease tonight.

The Canucks chased Anderson from last Saturday's game after beating him four times on 22 shots, but the 28-year old responded well in his next start stopping 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 win over the Flames. He watched from the bench on Wednesday night as his Avs team squandered a two-goal second period lead en route to a 6-4 loss.

Read the complete Canucks.com Tale of the Tape preview here. (Updated on the morning of each game)

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