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Contributed by resident prognosticator, Tilt’d Toledo


Previewing tonight’s dance with Dallas, one has to feel good about the Avs’ chances.

Finally in playoff form?
Making his third straight start in net, Peter Budaj will look to solidify his number one status (36 Saves against Calgary on Monday). Tyler Arnason will also attempt to build on a strong showing against the Flames (2 Assists), while Ian Laperriere hopes to deliver another punishing performance (9 Hits on Monday) against a much smaller foe.

Despite only one win since December 29th heading into Monday, Budaj once again provided a reason to believe by downing Calgary for the 2nd time during the current 8-game home stand. He stoned Dion Phaneuf twice late, while getting peppered with 39 shots on the night. Lately, Budaj has been saving his A-game for the Conference’s better teams, so look for him to be sharp again tonight against the red hot Stars, winners of five straight.

Centering line 2 with Marek Svatos seems to agree with Arnason. Without playing a stitch of special teams, Tyler still managed over 16 minutes of ice time. Look for that to continue, in light of his performance on Monday. Prior to the All-Star break, Arnason amassed a season-high four game scoring streak, so it’s not inconceivable for him to contribute to the score sheet again tonight.

Smash mouth hockeyColorado played an extremely physical game against the Flames, recording 36 Hits. Laperriere, in particular, feasted on the meaty Flames, leading the way with 9 Hits of his own. The feisty 195-pounder will not be required to lay the body as often against a smaller Dallas squad, but don’t expect him to let up too much. Despite playing on Line 4, the lanky centerman registered 17 minutes on the ice, when you factor in all of his special teams contributions. He’ll use his quickness against a speedy Stars power play, as coach Granato trusts him against the potent Dallas attack.

Should the Avs manage to win tonight’s game, they could find themselves only three points out of a playoff position, given a St. Louis victory over Edmonton. A loss to Dallas in regulation, however, could find Colorado dead last in the tight Western Conference. With more than thirty games remaining on the schedule, every team in the West is well within striking distance of the post-season. The next two games (@Cls, @Min) keep the Avs’ fate in their own hands, for the time being at least. While the hill is getting steeper for them, a win tonight to close out the record-long home stand would easily keep the Avs alive, in this man’s mind, if not this man’s.