In the playoffs, physicality ramps up from everyone, but Colorado Avalanche forward Evan Rodrigues really cranked it up in game two.
The 29 year old winger talked about his physical play on Thursday night, something he hoped would not only spark the team, but the fans as well. He also received big-time praise from his head coach after the game. Cale Makar talked about the “calm” in the locker room after the first period, despite the terrible start to the game from the Avalanche.
And Jared Bednar had high praise for his goaltender, who made several big saves to keep his team in it.
Take a look at what Rodrigues and Makar had to say, and read Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar’s thoughts after the big 3-2 win.
Bednar on the start and what was said between periods:
“First period was terrible. I thought that after going through game one, that we would be sharp and really on it in the first, and it’s not a lack of care or lack of try. I thought we were tight. We played tight. No one wanted the puck, no one wanted to skate with the puck. We saw parts of that in game one, so to me, that was the worst period we’ve played in the series so far. Except for one guy, Georgie. I thought he was great in the first period. Could have been a lot worse. But feeling tight, that was a message that we had to sort of build our swagger back, shift by shift, and we have to get more assertive and more engaged competitively. I think they’ve held the competitive advantage for the first four periods of the series. And then in the second period, you can see we started to free ourselves up a little bit. And now you’ve got guys wanting the puck, and heading to areas to get the puck and fighting through checks. More assertive, more engaged. Then we really started to see what our team can do once we scored the first goal.”
Bednar on Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev:
“Huge saves, timely saves. We were pushing and pushing hard in the second, especially that 3-on-1 save on what was a four-on-four at the time and we turned it over into a bad area and they went down. That save, and you could sort of feel the crowd get behind him and the chants, and I’m sure that helped spark him. He was exceptional the whole night. Like I said, it could have been a lot worse after the first if it wasn’t for him.”
Bednar on if Rodrigues’ physical play sparks the team:
“No question. I think everyone kind of feeds off it, right? And our bench got super engaged with the support for one another once we started playing. We were grasping at any little positive thing as a group that would help get us going and supporting one another. But I noticed E-Rod right out of the gate. His first two shifts, he gets two big hits. Generally more of a…not that physical of a player in his checking game, but he was on it tonight and he didn’t stop the whole night. He was one guy that was helping drive the bus early on in that game.”
Bednar on the players in the locker room after the first:
“Well, I just kind of told you what I said, but I’m sure they were saying the same things. Again, I’m not in there in the intermission, but we got great leadership in there. I trust those guys. Landy’s been in the room, because he’s been watching and I think it helps to have guys that are, you know, like Landy that he’s not so emotionally invested in it, and they trust him. He’s their captain and he carries a big voice, so I know he’s been in and out of there. Sometimes, you need a voice that’s not as engaged in it emotionally. He can take the emotion out of it and deliver the message, and guys can get it. It’s a collaborative effort. It’s not just me or the coaching staff that goes in to try and turn things around in our group. We’ve been doing it like family atmosphere since I got here.”
Bednar on the line changes defensive pair changes:
“I just kind of felt coming out of game one, I liked Lehky’s grit in the game. I liked his game better than Val’s, and I want a certain balance when I’m looking to put those lines together. So splitting those guys up, when you talk just Mikko and MacK, we’ve done it a lot this year. We’ve had some good success with it. For me, one other thing is Val kills (penalties) with Compher, so it makes a little bit of sense for them to be on the same line, even if all things are equal.
And then the ‘D’ partners, I didn’t like the way game one went. A little bit more balance this way. But Girard and Toews had just played together for 10 games with Cale out, and they were outstanding. Girard had a spike in all of his analytic numbers, he was making a bigger impact than he had at other times during the year playing with Toews. Toews has done a nice job on the right side, so then it makes sense to put Bo and Cale together to help create offense, especially when they play a lot with our top group.”
Bednar on Avalanche forward Val Nichushkin’s game:
“I thought he was outstanding tonight. That was old Val back. He didn’t have a good game one. He’s been fighting the puck a little bit here recently. And for me, with Val, it all revolves around his skating and him driving his legs and then he can be a force checking pucks back, keeping plays alive, creating chances for himself and his linemates. And I thought he was outstanding tonight.”