May be ready to go Friday vs. Blues

Updated: December 24, 2003, 2:44 PM ET
Associated Press

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche may be on the verge of getting a big holiday present: Peter Forsberg, who hasn't played in weeks because of an abdominal injury.

Last year's Hart Trophy winner took part in his first full practice Monday and will be with the team when it plays again Friday at St. Louis. Whether Forsberg will be in the game is another question.

"It's not 100 percent yet," he said. "(The pain is) still there a little bit, but I'm doing more and more and there have been no setbacks so far. I've never had an abdominal/groin injury like this, but everybody tells me, just don't reinjure it."

Colorado is still among the leaders in the Northwest Division, but is in the midst of its first five-game winless streak (0-2-3) in more than two years. Forsberg has missed the past 18 games and 21 of the past 23, while star winger Paul Kariya has missed 25 of the past 27 with a wrist injury.

Forsberg won't be rushed back, coach Tony Granato said.

"He's skating pretty good; he's getting better," he said. "Again, we'll wait for medical clearance for him, but obviously being able to practice with us and get a few good days under his belt will help him."

Forsberg said his injury isn't as severe as the one that sidelined Milan Hejduk for three months in the 2001-02 season.

"It wasn't like his," Forsberg said. "I didn't have the same symptoms."

The Avalanche will need all its weapons to keep pace with Vancouver and Calgary: After Christmas, Colorado plays 22 games in 42 days and has four sets of back-to-back games. And following the All-Star break, the Avalanche plays every other day except for a two-day reprise in March.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press