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Avalanche Notebook: Optional Practice?!? Bednar Had A Reason For Holding Back




Family Sports was as packed as you’ll see it on a Sunday afternoon for Colorado Avalanche practice. After watching their team get thrashed on home ice the night before, I think fans came to the rink expecting to see the players being put through the wringer by Jared Bednar.

Suicides, Herbies, whatever you want to call it. That’s what the fans came to see.

Yeah, that didn’t exactly happen…even if that is what the coach wanted.

“It’s a miserable day,” Bednar said after practice on Sunday. “In professional sports, there’s winning and then there’s misery. There’s not a lot of in-between, especially when it goes like that. There’s lots of anger, frustration, you name it, we’re feeling it.”

“Deep down, a lot of me would have loved to work our guys to death today, but we didn’t have enough guys to practice, actually.”

So, who could Bednar be talking about?

About 20 minutes before practice was scheduled to start, the media was notified it was now an “optional” practice. Was it a test to see what players would take the option?

Apparently not.

“We’ve got some guys dinged up last night,” Bednar said. “Lots of guys getting treatment. We’ve got to play tomorrow, so we felt like we covered what we needed to cover in the meeting. I think we’ve got to do some soul searching as individuals and as a group. I think we’ll do that.”

The only players who didn’t attend the skate this afternoon were Mikko Rantanen, Josh Manson, Sam Girard, and Logan O’Connor. Bednar said he doesn’t know if any of the injuries these players are dealing with are serious, but that the lineup for Monday night against Seattle is in question. Remember that Manson had surgery over the summer, and Rantanen missed some time in camp due to an injury.

Nathan MacKinnon was one of the players that took part in the optional practice for the Avalanche. Afterwards, I asked him if he agreed with the usage of the word “quit” last night from Bednar and some of his teammates.

The morning after saying his team quit, Bednar didn’t use that word again. However, he did reiterate he expects a lot more from his squad.

A lot more.

“It’s not that we played poorly. It’s that I know we’ve got more in us than even what we’ve shown,” he said. “Just putting our best foot forward, regardless of the outcome of the game. Whether it’s 6-1 for us, I still want us playing hard, and playing the right way. If it’s 6-1 for them, I want us playing hard and the right way.”

Special Teams Nightmare

The Avalanche have given up four shorthanded goals in the last week, while connecting on just one of their own opportunities. I asked Bednar if there was anything he’s specifically seeing that’s leading to the struggles.

“There’s decision making on some of them. There’s execution,” he said. “What’s getting us now is the lack of 5-on-5 mentality when a puck turns over. It’s like, well, we’re on the powerplay and they jump multiple players into the rush that we’re just not reloading and covering off the rush with numbers like we would 5-on-5. So there has to be a little bit of that workmanlike 5-on-5 mentality on the powerplay, even though you have a man advantage, and we’re lacking that. I think that’s easily fixable. It’s a mindset, it’s an attitude of your powerplay, and yeah, it’s hurt us here too much.”

Other News And Notes

  • I also asked Bednar about the team chemistry of the Avalanche, or lack thereof, and if he sees that as an issue.
    • “Not just chemistry, but just sort of finding the rhythm of our game and understanding what we have to do to have success and everyone kind of being on the same page…I do think we’ve got some players riding a roller coaster of good games to bad games. Productive games to non-productive games, not just on the offensive side, but on the checking side. That lack of consistency is really kind of making it difficult, as a group, to have success.”
  • I asked Ross Colton the same question about the team chemistry.
    • “I think the chemistry needs to form more in the D-zone away from the puck. Even watching clips of that game last night, we out-chanced them by a lot. It’s just the chances we’re giving up are ‘Grade-A’s’ and we can’t rely on our goalies to stand on their head every night and make back-door, tap-in saves. For the most part, it’s there, it’s just tying it all together, I think is the best way to put it.”
  • Bednar admitted he has thought about moving Colton to the wing in the top six for a spark. The reason he hasn’t? They don’t have enough centers right now, so they need him there.
  • The Avalanche signed Joel Kiviranta to a one-year deal on Sunday afternoon. Don’t be surprised if he’s called up real soon.
  • I’m still working on The Turning Point from this game, look for that later today. Quite a lot to choose from!
  • I have more thoughts on that game, but trying to gather them all. It wasn’t pretty, and I think this team has a real identity crisis at the moment.

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