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Canes test surprising Avalanche

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DENVER — Canes defenseman Tim Gleason was on the ice today at the Pepsi Center for the morning skate but will not play tonight against the Avalanche.

"That's a real good sign for us, that hopefully it won't be a matter of weeks," coach Paul Maurice said of Gleason's upper-body injury. "It's day to day."

Jay Harrison replaces Gleason in the lineup after being a healthy scratch the last two games. Harrison, by the way, has the only goal by a Canes defenseman this season.

The surprising Avalanche, which leads the Northwest Division and Western Conference with a 6-1-2 record, is one of the NHL's best early season stories. The Avs have rookie centers Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, both 18, in the lineup yet picked up 10 of a possible 14 points in a recent seven-game road swing by going 4-1-2.

The Avs' start is the second-best for the team since it moved to Denver 14 years ago. The Stanley Cup champs in 2000-2001 opened 7-0-2.

First-year coach Joe Sacco was expected to give goaltender Peter Budaj his first start of the season and give Craig Anderson a day off, with the Avs facing the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday at the Pepsi Center.

But Budaj has flu-like symptoms, Sacco said today after Colorado's skate. Anderson will be back in net again.

"We saw him a few times last year," Maurice said. "He's a heckuva goalie.

"Honest, I never like seeing a backup. I'd rather see a team's number one guy ... unless it's Marty Brodeur."

Anderson, who was with the Florida Panthers last season, has these numbers: 2.06 goals-against average, .934 save percentage. That's pretty strong.

But the Canes' focus is on getting a first road victory — or simply a victory. Carolina has gone 0-2-2 since ripping Florida 7-2 on Oct. 9, dropping a 4-3 shootout to the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

"We're looking for wins," center Eric Staal said. "I thought our fight and our compete was better (against the Isles). It was a step and that's how you have to look at it. You can't mope and sulk, because that will make it worse."

While much is made of the mile-high altitude in Denver, forward Tuomo Ruutu said he doesn't consider it a factor in games. The Canes did get in a long practice Thursday afternoon at the Pepsi Center.

"I've never had a problem with it," Ruutu said.



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I guess

The canes don't take tests too well huh ?? Now i'll go and see what the Rats did tonight...

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.