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Avalanche Gameday: Landeskog Joins Skate Ahead of Big Matchup With Wild



Avalanche Landeskog

When the Colorado Avalanche are having fun on the ice, that’s when you know they’re in a groove. That doesn’t just go for games, but practices and morning skates as well.

On Wednesday morning, before the biggest game of the year with the Wild, the Avalanche were a focused, but loose group. And they had a hype man on the ice with them.

That hype man also happens to be their Captain.

Gabriel Landeskog skated before everyone on Wednesday, and then when the team came out for their skate, he hopped on the ice with them. He did the same last week, but Jared Bednar said he’ll mostly keep working on his own, while reiterating that he’s “not close.”

I asked Bednar if Landeskog decides when he wants to join the team to skate.

“It’s just him wanting some more ice-time,” Bednar said. “Wanting to get those touches in a group setting. It can get monotonous, just skating on your own, or with one or two other players, but that’s the first step in it. Hopefully we start seeing him with the team more and more.”

Mikko Rantanen loved having the Captain out with the team before a huge matchup.

“Yeah, it’s big,” Rantanen said. “We haven’t seen him a lot this year, and to see him being on the ice, doing a couple of reps, shooting, it’s just fun to be around him. Especially here in the locker room, he’s a obviously big, big voice for us, so I think it gives a little boost.”

Any time a nice play was made by someone on the Avalanche, whether it was a big goal, nice defensive play, or big save, Landeskog smacked the boards and let out a big scream. He also took a few reps himself, showing that’s he can still shoot, burying a couple of nice goals. Skating, however, still looks to be an issue, especially when it comes to turning and moving from a stop. No one would love to be on the ice more for a big game like this than Landeskog, but he still looks a ways off.

As far as the game goes, the Avalanche know this is a big one. And they know the Wild will be ready for it.

“I think it’s pretty much like a playoff game for us,” Rantanen said. “We try to win the division and really push for that. We know it’s a big one, but they think the same way, so I’m expecting a really good match. Tight contest, lots of physicality. Playoff-like. That’s what we enjoy, for sure.”

Bednar knows his team has to be ready. He mentioned the Wild are the best team in the league over the last 20 games. Both teams want the perks of finishing first in the division.

“It’s just about being a competitor,” Bednar said. “There’s rewards for finishing first. You get to face what should be a weaker opponent come playoff time. Certainly, we don’t want to run into the Wild in the first round, if we can help it. It should be a really good contest.”

Alexandar Georgiev, who looked very focused in the locker room, will get the start in net for the Avalanche. The Wild will go with Filip Gustavsson.

With TNT broadcasting the game, puck drop is scheduled for 8:22 MST, so it will be a late one. Make sure you’ve had your coffee so you can stay up late.

Colorado's premier coverage of the Avalanche from professional hockey people. Evan Rawal, Editor-in-Chief. Part of the National Hockey Now family.

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