The battered, bruised Avalanche looked to the NHL's waiver wire Tuesday for some help.
Colorado claimed right winger Aaron Palushaj on waivers from the Montreal Canadiens. Palushaj, 23, could play for the Avs on Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks if he passes a physical in the morning.
Palushaj played 38 games with the Canadiens last season, scoring one goal with four assists. He was the 44th player selected in the 2007 NHL draft by the St. Louis Blues, but his pro career has been spent mostly in the minors.
"He's a guy that's put up some good numbers in college and in the American (Hockey) League, but hasn't had a real good opportunity yet in the (NHL)," Avs coach Joe Sacco said. "With the adversity we're facing right now with some injuries, he gives us some more depth up front."
Palushaj, from Livonia, Mich., and from an Albanian family heritage, starred at the University of Michigan from 2007-09. With Montreal's AHL team, the Hamilton Bulldogs, he averaged close to a point a game his first two seasons before getting a chance with Montreal last season. He did not make the Canadiens out of training camp this year and was placed on waivers.
In 21 games with Hamilton this season, he scored three goals and 10 points. He is considered a speedy forward, at 5-foot-11, 187 pounds, but a player who has yet to prove he can excel in front of the net and in the corners.
The Avs, who hope to get back to the .500 mark against the red-hot Ducks at the Pepsi Center, likely will get winger David Jones back to the lineup after he missed two games with a knee injury. Jones practiced Tuesday and said he felt great afterward.
However, several players didn't practice Tuesday. One of them, defenseman Erik Johnson, could not skate because of a bruised foot. Sacco said he will be evaluated Wednesday morning and is questionable to play. Others who didn't practice — P.A. Parenteau, Shane O'Brien and Ryan O'Byrne — had "maintenance days."
"With the shortened season, we thought we'd be facing some injuries, but it's a little bit more than I had hoped for," Sacco said. "Some other teams are going through similar situations, but maybe not quite to the extent that we are."
Number comparisons to overall injuries around the NHL, from last season to this, are hard to come by. But there seems little question in the minds of players that the lockout and resulting truncated 48-game schedule has something to do with a presumed increase in injuries.
"We've had a lot of rest because of the lockout, so it's hard to use that as an excuse," Avs winger Cody McLeod said. "But the shorter time off between games maybe has something to do with it. You've just got to keep grinding. Hopefully, with the little break we've got coming up here we can get some guys back."
The Avs' next game after Wednesday isn't until Monday against the Phoenix Coyotes.
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Said Avs center Paul Stastny, who has played every game: "I think a lot of guys are still just getting adjusted to everything. All around the league, there's injuries, and a lot of guys are playing with nagging injuries. You've really got to take care of yourself off the ice — eat right and get your rest. Hopefully, we can get healthy again as a team, but us guys who aren't injured, we've go to pick up the slack some more."