The Colorado Avalanche returned to practice on Friday after their league-mandated bye week. The team takes their five-game winning streak to Dallas Saturday night to take on the Stars in a road contest featuring two of the many teams competing for the wild-card spots in the Western Conference.
Starting in net will be Jonathan Bernier, who is coming off a string of fine performances before the bye week. Regular starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov is still nursing a flare-up of the groin issues that have plagued him for his entire career. He had surgery last season to correct the problems but he left midway through Colorado's game against the Winnipeg Jets last week and hasn't been seen since. Head coach Jared Bednar, who originally said Varlamov's injury wouldn't be "long-term", now is saying the team just hopes to have him back on the ice before the All-Star break (Jan. 26-28).
Also remaining down and out for now are forwards Sven Andrighetto, who did not practice Friday, and J.T. Compher, who did practice but in a non-contact jersey. That means the Avalanche lineup will remain the same as they rolled out last Saturday against the Minnesota Wild. The only other roster change is defenseman David Warsofsky was called up but is not expected to play immediately.
One defenseman who is expected to play immediately and play a whole lot is star Erik Johnson, who leads the Avalanche in ice time at 25:38 per game. When asked about the bye week, he had a tepid overall reaction to its existence.