Colorado Avalanche: Analyzing Peter Mueller's First Game Back

Kevin Goff@@BrgBrigadeKevinContributor IJanuary 13, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 28:  Peter Mueller #88 of the Colorado Avalanche warms up prior to facing the Los Angeles Kings at the Pepsi Center on September 28, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Colorado lost to the Nashville Predators on Thursday night but still got a bit of good news out of the whole thing.

Peter Mueller returned to the lineup after missing the last 41 games with concussion symptoms.

Mueller's struggles to overcome these symptoms have been well documented by the Colorado Avalanche.

Mueller did play in the first four games of the regular season this year, but was largely ineffective before being placed back on the injured reserve.

In Thursday's game, Mueller played on a line with Paul Stastny and T.J. Galiardi, which is the right place for him.

Mueller is a skill player who is supposed to put up points when he is healthy, and the second line is the best place for him to do that.

Early in the season, it seemed that Mueller was cautious when engaging in physical play and understandably so, but tonight he did not look passive.

He went hard to the net on a few occasions, absorbed a couple of good hits and even threw one or two, which is a great thing for Avalanche fans because Peter Mueller is a big body.

Mueller did play a limited role in tonight's game, with only 13:10 of ice time on 19 shifts. This is to be expected since he never really got back in the swing of things at the start of the season. He hasn't played hockey at full game speed for more than a year-and-a-half now.

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ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 21:  Peter Mueller #88 of the Colorado Avalanche skates during warm-up prior to their NHL game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center on March 21, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

It isn't surprising that his numbers have remained this low, and they should be expected to stay at about the same level for the first 10 games as he tries to remember what it's like to play hockey as frequently as he is going to.

The best part about his return was that Mueller was one of the three best Avalanche players on the ice Thursday night.

His time was limited, but he made the most of it. Mueller had five shots on goal and a couple of really good scoring chances. It was nice to see him being so aggressive with his offense.

Look for Mueller to start getting a bit of power-play time in the coming days; that was a huge part of his role when he was first traded to Colorado.

Mueller made a good first step in his second comeback attempt of this season, and hopefully he will be able to stay healthy as the season continues.

Mueller's next test will be in Dallas with the rest of the Avalanche squad on Saturday.

Kevin Goff is a Featured Columnist for the Colorado Avalanche and NHL on Bleacher Report. For more NHL news and discussion, 

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