Alex Tanguay bounded into the Avalanche dressing room Friday, fresh from a pain-free practice, a smile on his face. What seemed to be a lost season for Tanguay just a couple of weeks ago has been replaced by hope and promise.

Tanguay has a date in mind to return to the Avs' lineup. He won't divulge it, but his words indicated it will be soon.

"I'm expecting (to play). I've set a date in mind and I'm hoping to play by then," Tanguay said. "Obviously, it's been beyond frustrating. But I've just tried to come in and do the stuff I've needed to do on a daily basis."

After he suffered a knee injury Nov. 2 against Montreal, the Avalanche said Tanguay probably would return within six weeks. Then a hip injury happened too, and that became the more worrisome of the two ailments. For a while, the Avs were concerned that Tanguay would need to have season-ending hip surgery.

But for the past two weeks, the hip has felt much better.

"And the good thing is it feels better every day," Tanguay said. "There were only two scenarios: I was going to be able to play with it or I was going to have surgery. But we've been battling hard and we're hoping that things are going to keep going well. It's been frustrating, because when you're a player you always want to be in the games. But the guys have played great, and I'd like to do my part as well. I've gotten a little tired of watching games, but hopefully I won't be watching them anymore soon."

A couple of stalls down from Tanguay, P.A. Parenteau proclaimed a targeted return date from his own injury.

"Tuesday against Toronto. That's the plan," Parenteau said.

If that happens, Parenteau will have returned about three weeks earlier than projected after he sprained his left medial collateral ligament Dec. 29.

"It wasn't as bad as first thought. It was a quick recovery," said Parenteau, who zipped all over the ice during practice Friday. "At first I was real scared. You never know, you could be out for the year. But they told me right away they didn't think it was my ACL. I can't wait to get back. I don't think I'm made to watch games, really."

The Avs will get center Paul Statsny back from a minor leg injury Saturday against Nashville.