Checking. Checking. Checking. That’s been the message from Jared Bednar to his Avalanche team the last couple of days, and it’s going to be the message going forward every day that is left for the Avs on the schedule – regular season and playoffs – starting with tonight’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.
Bednar is a firm disciple in the gospel of “forecheck, backcheck=paycheck”, that there is no shortchanging any of that if there is to be championship success in the game of hockey. He is convinced the real reason why his team has dropped a few games of late is because his players just haven’t worked hard enough away from the puck.
“We’ve been checking with our eyes a little bit and not our legs, not getting back above pucks,” Bednar said today. “We didn’t manage the puck great in those last two games in San Jose either. That comes with our skating and our puck support. We’ve got a pretty good commitment to defend in our own zone, but we’ve got to be better up (the) ice.”
Translation: being “above pucks” means having the puck in front of you, not behind. Too many times of late, pucks have slipped behind the forwards in the offensive and neutral zones, leading to odd-man rushes and good scoring chances for the opposition. Bednar wants that nipped in the bud, pronto.
- Bednar said there are “a couple of guys who are banged up a little” and that he was still contemplating his lineup because of that for tonight. To remind people here, Bednar is no longer getting specific about his team’s lineup on game days.
- Joonas Donskoi was asked by yours truly if he knows fellow Finn Justus Annunen, the Avs prospect goalie who was just called up to the Colorado Eagles, and he said he has skated some with him and that he’s a “good goalie, with good skills.” And, he added that “the more Finns, the better” in the NHL.
- Cale Makar is a minus-9 in his last eight games. He’s had two goals and six assists in those eight games though, too.
- Bednar said that winning the division and getting home ice for any of the first two rounds remains a top goal, but he added a new caveat to things: “Being healthy and rested going into the playoffs is our top priority,” he said.
- I think that definitely helps explain why, even if Sam Girard or Brandon Saad could play right now – and from what I’m told, they could – Bednar is going to rest those guys entering the playoffs rather than rush them back to try and win a division. And, I think I agree with that strategy. This team needs to be as healthy as possible entering the playoffs.
- What if other guys get hurt in the meantime?
- Let’s not go there.
- Avs are -270 favorites to win outright against the Kings, at SuperBook Colorado. There’s a nice odds boost on a Mikko Rantanen prop bet available too. If he scores a goal and you bet that he will, your payout goes from +145 to +175. Place your bets here.