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Colorado Avalanche

Annunen Makes His Case; Pavel Leaves His Mark



Avalanche Ondrej Pavel

For the Colorado Avalanche, the finish line for the preseason is in sight. With their 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, just one preseason game remains.

I’m sure the veterans are very happy about that. Young players? They probably wish preseason lasted a few more weeks.

While the experienced NHL players can’t wait for the games to actually mean something, youngsters want as many games as they can possibly get to make an impression. On Tuesday night, one young player might have made a big impression.

The reason why I say *might* is because, again, nobody could see the game. Earlier in the day, we got news that Ondrej Pavel, who was expected to miss all of the preseason, was going to get in a game. Not only did he get in a game, but he scored the only goal of the night for the Avalanche. It just so happened to come shorthanded, an area of the game he specializes in. On top of that, he won 3 of the 5 face-offs he took.

On Wednesday morning, the team sent Pavel to the Eagles. The reality is that it was too late for Pavel to win the job at 4C. Fredrik Olofsson has been healthy all camp, and in the games he’s been able to play, has played well in all situations. In this case, Pavel’s injury hurt him a bit, through no real fault of his own. If nothing else, he likely made a positive impression on the coaching staff, something it didn’t look like he was going to have the chance to do a week ago.

I feel confident in saying that he will play NHL games this season.

Tuesday night was likely Justus Annunen’s last chance to make his case for the backup job to start the year. He doesn’t have any competition on the team right now, but the organization will almost certainly take a look at what goaltenders hit the waiver wire.

Annunen stopped 27 of 29 shots against the Stars, and one of them was so good that the Stars gave us actual proof that there were cameras in the arena.

Overall, Annunen finished the preseason with 72 saves on 78 shots, giving him a .923 save percentage. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see his last two games, but Bednar did praise his performance against the Minnesota Wild last week.

Will it be enough for him to secure the backup job? The numbers look good, especially when you consider the Avalanche dressed inferior lineups his last two games. The organization tested him, and he seemed up for the challenge. It may just come down to whether or not they want him sitting behind Georgiev, or playing games in the AHL.

CHN will be live from practice this afternoon with updates.

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