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Are the Avs’ Rookies Building Up or Wearing Down?

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The Colorado Avalanche weren’t supposed to do anything this year. The team—long past the glory days of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Patrick Roy—is in the dreaded rebuilding mode, trying to find its way back to the top. The Avs have relied largely on a group of rookies and other young players, surprisingly finding a way to hang around at the top of the division all season. Recently, though, the team seemed to be floating back to Earth.

The Avs were on a three-game losing streak, their longest of the year, heading into last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Pepsi Center. But they bounced back in a resounding way, stomping the Blue Jackets 5-1 on the backs of their rookies (recap via Mile High Hockey). Colorado is now sixth in the Western Conference and just two points behind the Vancouver Canucks in the Northwest Division, according to NHL.com.

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But the team isn’t quite out of the woods yet. The Denver Post’s Dave Krieger wonders if Paul Stastny is earning his five-year, $33 million salary and whether the former University of Denver star deserves to be the team’s highest-paid player. Krieger also wonders if the very same rookies who led the way last night are wearing down, just as they head into the pre-playoffs stretch.

And let’s not overlook what’s going on with John-Michael Liles. Bleacher Report points out that the once-promising defenseman has clearly fallen out of favor with coach Joe Sacco, as evidenced by his benching in last week’s game against the New York Rangers. The move makes it harder to complete the inevitable trade of Liles coming up in March, a situation that needs to be cleared up in order for the team to have any long-term success.

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