At first glance, the Avs look like they're out of it being in 12th place and all. However, the Avs sit just 3 points behind 8th place Phoenix. Wait, it gets better, the Avs also have 2 games in hand over both the 7th place Wild and the 8th place Coyotes.
Injured players returning
David Jones left last Wednesday's game against the Coyotes after suffering a shoulder injury. It was later reported he would be out indefinitely. Well apparently indefinitely means a little over a week as Jones is set to play tomorrow afternoon against the Ducks. He will add some much needed size and hopefully some scoring.
Ryan O'Reilly who hasn't played since January 14 against the Wild after that scary crash into the boards won't be suiting up tomorrow like Jones but he will be back in the next few games. He's been practicing with the team all week. He'll be a huge upgrade on the defensive end and penalty kill.
While probably a ways off, Peter Mueller has been skating with the team finally. This has been his first time on ice since his latest concussion suffered in the preseason. He is probably still anywhere from a few weeks to a few months away from returning but his presence on the ice alone should give the team and the fans a little more excitement.
The Foppa factor
By now, everyone is aware that former Avs star Peter Forsberg has been practicing with the team in hopes that he can return to the NHL this season. His foot appears to be feeling much better and he should be making his decision pretty soon. I'd have to agree with Dater that we will be getting a decision before the team leaves for the next road trip on Sunday.
With the loss of Tomas Fleischmann and not having Mueller all season, the Avs have become short at left wing. Forsberg would be a huge upgrade at the position even if he isn't at 100%. He's a guy who is nearly impossible to take off the puck. His vision can only be rivaled by guys like Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton or Henrik Sedin. And the main thing Foppa will bring (other than ticket sales) is veteran leadership for the young guys.
Also, Matt Duchene is pretty happy about it.
While the Avs look like they'd be in a position to sell off pieces, the standings are too tight right now and they're still in alright position to make the playoffs. The biggest need for this team right now is defense and goaltending. Upgrading the defense would probably help in the goaltending department as Anderson and Budaj are being peppered with high percentage shots every night. Some players the Avs should consider to help on the back end include Boston's Mark Stuart who is rumored to be on the block as well as Edmonton's Kurtis Foster. Another possibility is Chris Phillips from Ottawa who could just need a change of scenery. The Avs need to get bigger on the back end and these guys would help in that department.
While it is looking like there may be little hope that the Avs will make the playoffs, with the right moves made by the players and management, there is still a lot of reason to believe that this team can do it. It needs to start happening now though before it is too late. Already feels like playoff hockey.