The Colorado Avalanche have dealt with a slew of injuries this season. It appears timely relief is in sight.
The Avalanche may have two key contributors back on the ice when they begin a five-game road trip Friday night against the sputtering Carolina Hurricanes.
Colorado (13-9-2) entered this season looking to build on a promising 2009-10, when it finished with 95 points and reached the playoffs.
Those aspirations were dealt a number of severe blows with a rash of injuries, including two to goaltender Craig Anderson (knee and groin) and captain Adam Foote (head and leg) while left wing Peter Mueller is out indefinitely with a concussion.
Anderson and Foote, however, are on this trip and slated to return soon.
"Craig obviously practiced with us (Wednesday) and made it through practice fine ... (he'll) be available for us on Friday," coach Joe Sacco told the team's official website.
Anderson and Foote have been out since a 4-2 loss at Vancouver on Nov. 24 that started a 1-2-1 stretch.
If Anderson does play Friday, he will be looking to stay unbeaten in regulation against the Hurricanes after going 2-0-1 with a 4.02 goals-against average in his first three meetings.
Sacco could opt to use Anderson as the backup and give Peter Budaj a fourth consecutive start. Budaj is 9-5-2 with a 2.92 GAA but has given up at least three goals in his last eight games, including a 3-2 overtime loss to Atlanta on Tuesday.
Budaj also took the loss in Colorado's last visit to Carolina, 2-1 on Jan. 8.
While Anderson and Foote are expected back, Tomas Fleischmann is likely to make his Avalanche debut after being acquired from Washington for defenseman Scott Hannan on Tuesday.
The left wing has four goals and six assists after notching career highs of 23 and 28, respectively, last season.
"It's another turn in my life and now I have to make sure I work hard here and play as hard as I can," Fleischmann said.
Colorado's Matt Duchene has scored five goals in six games, getting one in each of the last four for the longest streak of his career. The 19-year-old center, who has eight points in six contests, scored twice in the first 18 games.
The Hurricanes are on a 1-2-3 stretch that includes a three-game losing streak at RBC Center. They fell 4-1 at home to Dallas on Monday.
Eric Staal continues to be Carolina's top offensive threat with team highs of 12 goals and 16 assists. He has nine goals and 12 assists over the last 13 games, but the Hurricanes are 5-5-3 in that span.
"He's maturing," coach Paul Maurice told the team's official website. "He had to balance the weight of our offensive game that he carries so much of with playing the minutes he does against sometimes the other team's best. I think he's come a long way with that."
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