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Avalanche Gameday: Lehkonen to Top Powerplay Unit, Bednar Confident Team Will Be Better




I’m sure all Colorado Avalanche fans are hoping the team will be better in game two.

Jared Bednar is not just hopeful. He’s very confident that will be the case.

“I feel great. I do. I feel good,” Bednar said. “We’re going to be better tonight.”

We won’t know until warmups if there will be any line changes, as the Avalanche don’t do line rushes at morning skates, but there will be one change to the powerplay.

Artturi Lehkonen, who spent most of the season on the top powerplay unit, will move back up with the big guns. Valeri Nichushkin will drop down to the second unit.

“I think he’s relentless on puck retrievals, and he’s a good middleman,” Bednar said, when asked what Lehkonen can bring to that top unit.

Any other lineup changes will have to wait until we’re closer to warmups. Josh Manson left morning skate early, but he also was the first player on the ice, working alone with Shawn Allard. When asked if it’s something that could keep him out of the lineup on Thursday, Bednar responded with a resounding “no.” The Avalanche have to hope he can shake off some of the rust that was present in game one.

There were no updates on Andrew Cogliano and Jack Johnson. Neither of them skated.

One of the surprise last-second lineup changes on Tuesday was Erik Johnson coming in for Jack Johnson. Jack took warmups and was on the official lineup sheet, but was a last minute scratch. That meant Erik stepped in after he was supposed to be a healthy scratch.

Or was he?

“I wasn’t supposed to be in?” Erik asked reporters, when the question was brought up about entering the lineup at the last minute. “That was news to me. I was ready to play all day.”

He may or may not have had a grin on his face while answering…

The Avalanche did register 35 shots in game one, but that doesn’t mean they were happy with all of their chances.

“I think we had good looks,” Johnson said. “But usually when we’re on our game, we’re getting those second and third looks right there in front of the goalie. While we did possess the puck quite a bit, it didn’t translate into as many ‘Grade A’ opportunities as we would have liked. It’s got to be a little bit more of a five-man unit in that regard. It can’t just be the forwards, it can’t just be the ‘D’ providing offense. We seemed a little disconnected, in that sense.”

Evan Rodrigues focused on one thing the team needs to do on Thursday night, and that’s making life more difficult for Philipp Grubauer.

“I think we created a lot of good chances,” Rodrigues said. “I think we didn’t create enough traffic in front of him. I think that’s a big key, especially in the playoffs. A lot of the goals are around the net, dirty goals. I just don’t think we created enough traffic.”

Game two starts at 7:30 PM MST.

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