Sitting in his locker stall, his new number 90 jersey, Ryan O'Reilly is finally back where he belongs: in the NHL.
After a contract dispute that lasted months longer than it should, O'Reilly gets to be a hockey player again. After leading the Avalanche in scoring last season, O'Reilly joins a team hoping to string together some games to get back into the playoff race.
He joins a team 23rd in the league in penalty killing and goals against, the part of the game that O'Reilly will help the most.
O'Reilly will line up on the third line with John Mitchell and Milan Hejduk, a line that coach Joe Sacco hopes will provide some secondary or even tertiary scoring. Mitchell and Hejduk currently are fifth and sixth on the Avs in scoring. Sacco is hoping O'Reilly will continue his production from last season to take pressure off Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny to give the Avs a more balanced scoring attack.
He might have to earn back the trust of his teammates and the fans who had come to love him as the team-loving rink rat who would sacrificing anything for the good of the team. It is cliche` but it is true, winning cures all ails. If O'Reilly helps the Avs win, then the team and its fans will forgive him.
Giguere out for today
The Avs will be without backup goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere for their game tonight, who is away from the team attending the funeral for his mother. Calvin Pickard has been called up while Giguere is away.