Avalanche’s Stastny playing well buy looks for more | VailDaily.com

Avalanche’s Stastny playing well buy looks for more

Terry Frei
The Denver Post

Through 20 games, center Paul Stastny has four goals and 14 assists for the Avalanche. That’s nearly a point-a-game clip, and he’s Colorado’s leading scorer, so it’s not as if he has been invisible.

Yet the son of Hall of Famer Peter Stastny is in the first season of a five-year, $33 million contract extension, and this is Colorado’s first season after the retirement of Joe Sakic and a proverbial passing of the torch.

So it isn’t out of line to at least wonder: Shouldn’t Stastny be doing more, not only as a playmaker (his calling card), but also as a leader and a goal scorer?

“Well, in a game like tonight, you need more from everybody,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after Colorado’s 8-2 loss at home to Vancouver on Saturday night. “It’s not one player.”

Said Stastny: “I’m just trying to do anything I can to help this team win. Sometimes, it’s not going in, and I just have to keep working hard and try to stay positive, no matter what happens.”

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Stastny hasn’t scored a goal since against Detroit on Oct. 24, the night after he scored twice in a home-ice victory over Carolina. His only other goal this season came Oct. 3 against Vancouver.

Sakic didn’t play last season after late November because of injuries, so 2008-09 began the transition. But this is the first time Stastny has gone into the season as the team’s unquestioned No. 1 center and also (by far) its highest-paid player.

“I guess it puts more responsibility on everyone,” Stastny said. “I’m ready for that. Everybody’s ready for that. I’ve got to be better. Everybody’s got to be better, top to bottom.”

The Avalanche wasn’t scheduled to practice Sunday, even before the snowstorm hit, and will be back on the ice at the Family Sports Center today and then depart for Calgary, where Colorado opens a three-game intradivisional trip against the Flames on Tuesday night. The Avs also are at Ed-monton on Wednesday and at Vancouver on Friday.

After its eye-catching start, Colorado is 2-4-1 in its last seven games.

“Definitely, we have played better than we have in the last couple of weeks,” said Avalanche winger Milan Hejduk, who returned to the lineup Saturday night after missing two games with a back issue. “Bad starts, getting down, like by four goals (Saturday night) against a pretty good goaltender (Roberto Luongo).”

Also, defenseman Tom Preissing played his first game for Colorado against the Canucks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery in September. Preissing played 13 minutes and was on for three of the Canucks’ final four goals, albeit after the game was out of hand, and was minus-4 for the night.

“I thought he started out OK, but then I think the speed of the game caught up to him a little bit towards the end,” Sacco said. “It was his first game in a long stretch. So . . . we all need to be better.”

Terry Frei: 303-954-1895 or tfrei@denverpost.com

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