Sutter’s 3-word summation of the Avs – ‘They’re still great’

As the Kings and Avalanche enter tonight, both teams have played 48 games. The somewhat surprising statistic is that Colorado has actually won more of them, 25 to LA’s 23. Most people were expecting the Kings to contend for the Pacific Division crown this year, while Avs coach Joe Sacco was rumored to be on the hot seat just last month.

Both teams are taking an average of 31 shots per game. Yet, like just about every team in the league, they’re scoring more goals than the Kings, 124 to 106.

Colorado visited LA earlier this month, and – surprise – the game was tied after three periods. In fact, nine of the 15 games played since Darryl Sutter took over behind the bench have needed more than 60 minutes.

“We’ve played them twice (this season),” said Sutter. “Once when I wasn’t here, we lost up there 3-2. Then, we lost here in the shootout. If you break it down…shots for and against, well, we’ve out shot them 2-1 and haven’t beat them yet. So, it’s about finishing opportunities. You have to handle their skill. They’re still a great – it goes back to Sakic and Forsberg, it’s still in their system, the triangle and the way they play in the offensive zone. This group carries that on for them. Those kids are quick. You have to be able to defend really well against them or they’re going to…they’re a quick team.”

Goalie Jonathan Quick has been in net for both losses to the Avalanche this season, a rather odd stat considering he entered the year with a 7-0-0 record and two shutouts against them.

On the positive side, LA is 4-0-2 at home against Colorado since October 2008. So, tonight gives them a chance to pick up at least a point in seven straight against them at Staples Center.

One definite change from the other two contests this season will be the addition of Peter Mueller (a teammate of Jack Johnson’s back at the US National Development Program) to the Avs line-up. He recently returned after missing all of the 2010-11 season and the first 40 games this year.

Full rosters and line combinations for both teams will be posted later today.

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