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Avalanche Skate: Special Teams Battle, Bednar Talks Nieto on Second Line




Ahead of Game Four, it doesn’t look like there will be any lineup changes for the Colorado Avalanche.

Valeri Nichushkin, Darren Helm, and Jack Johnson all missed morning skate, indicating that the lineup from Saturday night will likely be what people see on Monday.

One of those lineup changes was Matt Nieto filling in on the second line in the absence of Nichushkin.

“I think those two guys like playing with him,” Jared Bednar said of Nieto. “I think he’s a good complimentary guy, likes to play fast, helps them get up the ice. He’s been tenacious on pucks. He’s played pretty well in this series, so I liked the way that line looked the other night.”

Powerplays haven’t really played much of a role in this series, at least in terms of offense. Both teams have given up a shorthanded goal against, but the Kraken are the only team that was able to score with the man advantage. That goal came at the end of the game three when the game was already out of reach. Still, Bednar is happy with what he’s seen from his powerplay.

“Last game, especially,” Bednar said. “I think it could have been better in game one and game two. Kind of followed our 5-on-5 play, as I often say, it’s going to be a mirror image of that a lot of nights. But last game, I really liked it, actually. The first powerplay right out of the gate. Hit a seem pass to Mikko and right into Lehkonen for a grade-a scoring chance that we didn’t score on, and it kind of continued on from there.”

The penalty kill has been strong again for Colorado. After asking Compher about it on Sunday, I talked to Logan O’Connor and Andrew Cogliano about the strong performance from the group, and what adjustments they keep making.

“Once you’re in a series, you know pretty much the same personnel, general system and players,” O’Connor said. “But I think both groups consistently try to make adjustments throughout the series as things go on.”

The Avalanche have already seen an adjustment that they might need to make, based off that late powerplay goal by the Kraken.

“I think we saw at the end of the game on their powerplay,” O’Connor said. “They had a shot off the draw right away, and maybe that’s something we’re going to look at tonight.”

Cogliano reiterated a lot of what O’Connor said.

“I think they’ll switch things up and make adjustments and that’s what makes it hard in the playoffs,” he said. “They scored a late goal last game and we’ll have to look at that. I think we have very committed guys in our room on the penalty kill. We’ve got a lot of guys that take a lot of pride in it, and Pratter does a good job with our system. Sometimes, when you go game-to-game, you got to see what they’re doing and what they’re adjusting to and you move on from there.”

Other News and Notes

  • Avalanche Captain Gabriel Landeskog, as you can tell from the picture, is essentially an extra coach for the team. He’s been going out for morning skates and passing pucks to the players and whenever someone scores, he’s banging the ice or the boards with his stick.
  • Alex Newhook moved back to center with Cogliano and O’Connor last game, and a lot of that is familiarity, as they played together a decent amount during the season. “He kind of knows how we play, in terms of, specifically on the forecheck. We run the same routes every game. I think Newy, he compliments us well and hopefully we compliment him well,” Cogliano said.
  • Cogliano talked about the Avalanche having won 12 straight on the road: “I think we’re a really tight team. I think we have a lot of camaraderie in our room, and that really helps. Over the last couple of years, it’s just a really strong team mentally.”

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