Injuries are a major reason why the Colorado Avalanche‘s playoff chances are fading, but the possible return of Semyon Varlamov could provide some hope.

Varlamov may be back Thursday night as the Avalanche try to bounce back from a defeat by continuing their success against the New Jersey Devils.

Colorado (30-26-11) won the Central Division last season, but reaching the playoffs again is a tall order as it sits seven points back of Winnipeg for the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot with 15 games to play.

The Avalanche can point to a slew of injuries for the reason they’ve struggled, and they’re currently without defenseman Erik Johnson (knee), while forwards Nathan MacKinnon (broken foot) and Jamie McGinn (back) are lost for the season.

“Story of our season,” second-year coach Patrick Roy said.

Roy may feel better if Varlamov can return from a nagging groin injury that sidelined him for Tuesday’s 5-2 defeat to Los Angeles, snapping his string of 22 straight starts.

“We’ll see,” Roy said. “I’m going to meet with (goaltending coach Francois Allaire) to see what he thinks also.”

Varlamov has won three straight starts while stopping 101 of 103 shots. He owns a 1.30 goals-against average while winning three games in a row versus New Jersey (28-29-10), making 23 saves in a 3-2 win Nov. 15.

If Varlamov can’t go, then Roy would decide between rookie Calvin Pickard and Reto Berra. Pickard was pulled in the first period Tuesday after allowing three goals on eight shots, and Berra followed with 20 saves.

Berra, though, has been pulled in his last two starts, with the last one coming at Arizona on Nov. 25.

Gabriel Landeskog is looking to continue his offensive surge, scoring nine goals with seven assists in 13 games. The captain has seven points in his last four, and one assist in each of the last two games against New Jersey.

The Avalanche are 6-0-1 in their last seven meetings with the Devils, outscoring them 10-3 while winning all three at home.

Unlike Colorado, New Jersey is all but mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, 12 points back of Boston for the second wild-card spot in the East. The Devils are coming off Tuesday’s 6-2 loss at Minnesota, falling for the 11th time in 14 road games. Co-coach and general manager Lou Lamoriello watched from press box, while Adam Oates was flanked by Tommy Albelin and Scott Stevens behind the bench.

“I just wanted to watch the game from a little different area just to see something a little different,” Lamoriello said. “It certainly isn’t what I would have liked to have seen up there.”

It’s unclear if Cory Schneider will be back in net after stopping 25 of 30 shots before being pulled early in the third period Tuesday. Rookie backup Keith Kinkaid made seven saves the rest of the way, and has a 1.60 GAA in his last three games – two starts.

Schneider has lost four straight games against Colorado with a 2.46 GAA.

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