The Avalanche are a sinking ship in the Western Conference standings, off to an amazing start again in October, but November has not been kind to the team in Denver, so the roster shuffle that a lot of teams have been employing of late has begun there as well. On Wednesday night, for their game against the Canucks, the Avalanche scratched Box 8 forward Brandon Yip, who had just recently returned from injury last week. Yip hasn't registered a point yet in three games played with the club and he may not have made it up to speed right away, which would make the scratch somewhat reasonable.
This probably wasn't the kind of start that Box 14 defenseman Brendan Smith was hoping for in his first full season with the Red Wings, having been suspended in the preseason, the big club drawing it out with stints in the minors, finally making it to the big show and then Wednesday night, finding himself in the press box for the game against the Flames. In three games played with the Wings, Smith does have 2 assists, so he has been able to pick up some points when he has played, but he is certainly being used sparingly early on.
The shuffle on Long Island continued on Wednesday night, but there was a little bit more than poor play at work, as Brian Rolston reportedly picked up a small bout of the flu, which allowed Blake Comeau to draw back into the line-up. Rolston, the Box 23 veteran on the club, has been in and out of the line-up a little bit this season, playing in 17 games this year, scoring 2 goals and 2 assists to start out the year. I would imagine that the shuffling will continue after the break, especially after dropping a lead against the Flyers and losing in overtime on Wednesday night.
There is no sense in playing favourites when your team is struggling to rediscover their identity, so when Box 23 forward Joel Ward slept in and missed a team meeting and morning skate, his fate was doomed to the press box for Wednesday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets. It's a fairly straight-forward punishment for being lazy and I imagine that he'll be back in the line-up when they go again, after the short Thanksgiving break, but just to play Devil's Advocate, the Capitals did beat the Jets, so why change up a winning line-up?