It’s the stars that set the standard for the Colorado Avalanche, and I think it’s fair to say that over the last few games, the stars haven’t been at the top of their game.
They’re looking to change that, though.
On Monday, two of the first skaters on the ice were Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar. Both were on separate sheets of ice, but both were working on their own to sharpen their skills a little bit. Stuff like that gets noticed by the rest of the team. Soon enough, everyone trickled onto the ice
Well, not everyone.
Jared Bednar was not at practice, and therefore, not available to the media afterwards, as he’s currently sick. If he’s not feeling well on Tuesday, one of his assistants, either Nolan Pratt or Ray Bennett, will speak to the media.
Also missing was Fredrik Olofsson, who is currently day-to-day with an upper body injury. The Avalanche recalled Ondrej Pavel in his place, and assuming Olofsson can’t play on Tuesday, Pavel may make his NHL debut. Pavel was not available to the media after practice because he was recording video for a team sponsor.
Mikko Rantanen WAS available, and spoke to the media about the recent struggles of the team after practice.
“We play pretty well, at times, and then we give up a chance, usually a breakaway, or tap-in, or a guy’s alone in the slot,” Rantanen said. “I think we defend at times, but then all of the sudden, it’s 4-0. We gave up Grade ‘A’s’ a lot, so I think that’s a mental issue.”
Rantanen went on to explain a little bit more.
“It’s the chemistry, it’s the little details that we’re lacking a little bit,” he said. “Execution hasn’t been good the last four games. We’ve got to execute the gameplan better.”
Colorado will likely have new lines (again) on Tuesday, but no matter what the lines are, Rantanen made it clear – they need to take what is given to them.
“When things are not rolling, you’ve got to simplify a little bit,” he said. “I think we’re pressuring the stick too much, squeezing it. I think it’s going to go away eventually, but we just got to relax a little bit and maybe simplify the game. When you (win) and everything is going well, it’s easier to play a little more skilled hockey, but now we’ve just got to put our foot down and play a little more playoff hockey.”
Here’s the “new” lines the Avalanche used today, although it’s basically the top six the team started the season with. We’ll see if that’s what they use tomorrow.
Drouin – MacKinnon – Rantanen
Lehkonen – Johansen – Nichushkin
Wood – Colton – O’Connor
Gray: Pavel, MacDermid, Cogliano, Tatar
- Tomorrow will be the first game Miles Wood will play against his old team. He told me he doesn’t think it will be weird, but maybe when he goes to New Jersey it will be. He’ll be going out to dinner with a lot of his old teammates tonight. Wood took a puck to the face at practice, but said he’s fine.
- I talked to Wood about this last week, but Ross Colton also told me that the adjustment to Western Conference travel has been a tough one for him, and he’s still getting used to it. It’s a lot more flying, and a lot more changing of time-zones. He said there’s not much you can really do to prepare for it, you just have to get used to it over time. None of this is being used as an excuse, by the way. I’m just always fascinated by little details like this that we don’t always think about.
- I had a good chat with Drouin after practice, and will probably have that up in the morning. Drouin and MacKinnon were reunited at practice, but we’ll see if that sticks for Tuesday’s game. The two of them worked together after practice on a few things.
- We’ll end with some fun. A lot of Avalanche alumni were on the other sheet of ice skating, as many of them will head to Toronto for Pierre Lacroix’s Hall of Fame induction next week. And yes, those players included Joe Sakic, Milan Hejduk, and even Peter Forsberg, who flew in from Sweden. Because they were on at the same time as the Avalanche locker room was opening, I didn’t catch a ton of video, but here’s a few that was I was able to get. Enjoy.
Hejduk and Forsberg, together again. pic.twitter.com/YXVpnjCJGu
— Evan Rawal (@evanrawal) November 6, 2023