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It Begins: Colorado Avalanche READY for Tampa Bay

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Colorado Avalanche Mikko Rantanen
Jack Dempsey/AP

Today was the first day that the Colorado Avalanche practiced knowing their opponent in the Stanley Cup Final. It was a quiet Ball Arena when the Avs took the ice to prepare for the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay Lightning. The series begins Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Ball Arena.

“They’re a real deep team. Highly committed team and defensive side of things, dangerous offensively, great goaltending,” Jared Bednar said of the Avs’ Stanley Cup Final opponent. “I mean they’re back where they are for a reason.”
14 players were on the ice 15 minutes before practice started today. They had to make their way to bench and watch the ice be cleaned before they could jump back on for the official start time of 12 p.m. 

Nazem Kadri and Andrew Cogliano did not practice with the team. Coach Jared Bednar did say that neither have been officially ruled out for Game 1. Both skated before practice without sticks. 

Gabe Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Val Nichushkin were together on the first line. Followed by Mikko Rantanen, J.T. Compher and Artturi Lehkonen on the second. The third and fourth lines were Nico Sturm, Darren Helm and Logan O’Connor. As well as Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Alex Newhook, Jacob MacDonald and Jayson Megna. It’s important to note Andre Burakovsky did not practice today as coach Jared Bednar confirmed it was maintenance day. 

The Colorado Avalanche will have had eight days of rest between Game 4 in Edmonton to Game 1 in Denver. While the Tampa Bay Lightning will have had three days. The Avs have had series like this before already in the playoffs when they wrapped Nashville in four games and then had to wait for the St. Louis Blues to wrap up their series. 

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“Our goal is to focus in on what we need to do to be ready to play come drop the puck Game 1,” Bednar said, “We’ve done a nice job of it to the end of the playoffs, after the first round, after the second round, varying degrees of rest.”

Jared Bednar does not tip his hat when it comes to injuries or lineups. We’ll have to wait till Wednesday night to officially know who is in and out of the lineup. The Avs will have an optional skate Tuesday and then morning skate Wednesday before puck drop later that night. Media day is going to be Tuesday at Ball Arena.

Darcy Kuemper is expected to be the starting goalie for Game 1. While Bednar has not made that official, the signs and the body language seem to indicate he’ll be in net when the puck drops Wednesday night.

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Glendon Gulliver

Since Rantanen is not practicing as center, my guess is that the top two lines are set with Compher playing center on the 2nd line. Question will be the plan for the bottom two lines. Newhook-Sturm-Burakovsky and Aube-Kubel-Helm-O’Conner or will it be another combination?

Peter North

Sounds like if the broken finger guys can go it will not be Wednesday night or the entire Finals really.

Dave Jones

Excited! Nervous. Hopeful. This Tampa Bay team is to be respected. Fact is, I have not watched them at all. Goalie is excellent and the main way AVS will be challenged is if they get bottled up in the neutral zone. Kind of like St.Louis had some success with.

Dave North

Tampa are also very good at “boxing out” their opponents, so that no dangerous shots get through. This can be very frustrating for the likes of MacKinnon and Rantanen, so I predict good shots from Makar and Toews will be crucial for scoring. If Landy can park in front of Vasilevsky that will further improve their chances of getting the puck in the net.

Peter North

This is where Jared and players need to adapt. Low shots hitting goalie pads with rebounds will be the story.

Christopher Nearing

Any word on Manson’s condition?

Peter North

What was wrong with Manson?

Matt Briggle

As Apollo Creed said to Rocky at the very end of III, “ding, ding”. Can’t wait for this series to start and see how our Avs match up against this Tampa Bay machine.

Jordan Leonard

I love Kuemper, but it would be very disappointing and make no sense if he starts instead of Frankie. Frankie is the hot hand, and has way more than earned starting the SCF, and is undefeated and won the last 4 straight.

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