Joel Kiviranta came to training camp with the Colorado Avalanche to earn a contract and stay with the big club. It didn’t happen right away, but he’s here now, and contributing in multiple ways.
The veteran Finnish forward chipped in with three points in the 8-2 victory on Wednesday night for the Avalanche over the Ducks, and spoke to some of the media after the game. He talked about the “difficult situation” after being released from his PTO after camp, and what he wants to bring to the team.
In addition, Andrew Cogliano spoke to the media, as well as head coach Jared Bednar, who wanted to reward Jonathan Drouin with some time on the top powerplay late. Coach thinks his team is finally playing to their full capabilities.
Take a look at what the two Avalanche skaters had to say, and read Bednar’s thoughts after a dominant performance.
Kiviranta on the last few weeks and if the situation has played out like the Avalanche said it would when he agreed to go to the AHL
“Yeah, something like that. It was a difficult situation after training camp, and we just tried to figure out something, and now this is the case, and I’m happy with that.”
Bednar on what he likes about his bottom six right now:
“What don’t I like about them? Probably the better question. I thought they were great tonight, again. Good energy, really paying attention to the checking details, and then they’re up and they’re relentless in their puck pursuit. Real hard to play against that way, because they’re pushing you all the time on the forecheck and then they’re getting back above it and turning pucks over. And then on top of that, they finished off some plays tonight.”
Bednar on Nichushkin’s net-front ability:
“It’s huge. That’s one of the areas of our game, you take 92 out of the lineup, and he’s so good at it. He’s not only there all the time and on time and able to get his stick on all those pucks, but he’s able to work off the net and make plays and then still get back there before the shots come. He’s one of the best at it. We miss that out of our lineup, but Val’s a guy that’s been working at it, he watches a lot of video with the powerplay especially, and just kind of looking at timing and positioning and whose got the puck, and when they might need a release.”
Bednar on how the Avalanche responded after the 8-2 loss Saturday:
“They responded great. It starts with the bounce back game in Seattle. Final 40 minutes or so was probably the best we’ve played all year, just with those details, making it harder for teams to move and trying to take away time and space. We continued that in the first period tonight. With the better support, more talk, better details, the execution goes up, the speed of our game goes up.”
Bednar on if the Avalanche are finding that extra gear they have:
“That’s the way I want us to play. We’ve been waiting for it and waiting for it, and it just hasn’t come out of our team yet. A little bit of embarrassment. More determination in our game, that’s really what it comes down to. The better we check, the more we create. The more in tune we are with our details, the better our execution is.”
Bednar on if the identity of the team is coming into focus:
“I hope so. It’s been clear to me for a while and I think when you start putting together periods like that, four of our last five anyway, that are right on point, or the way you want to play. I think our lines are starting to carve out their identities and I think just making sure we’re relentless and determined for the full 60.”
Bednar on giving Drouin a chance on the top powerplay unit for the Avalanche, and if that’s a reward or a new look:
“Yeah, a little bit of both. I think he’s a guy that can play in there. I feel like his game’s ramping up a little bit here over the last couple games. He’s using his skating more. Obviously, a great playmaker. I think he can help that unit in there. (Johansen’s) been doing a nice job in there, especially off the face-offs and distributing the puck, but it just depends on the ice-time. If I see a guy going, I’d like to try and reward them a little bit, so that has something to do with it as well.”
Bednar on Georgiev’s last two games:
“I feel like he fits the exact mold of our team. Just sharper, better focus and preparation maybe, but pushing himself to another level here. He played a lot of average games in there when we weren’t playing well, and sometimes you need your goalie to bail you out, and we really weren’t getting that. Now, the last couple games, our team is going, he’s going. Hopefully we keep that going as a group.
Bednar on the decision to use Kiviranta over Riley Tufte:
“Eye test, watching games, talking with Schneekloth, and his camp and exhibition. His history. He’s an NHL player. He’s a worker, he’s got a good skill level, but he can skate, he fits the mold of our bottom six. Responsible, responsible player when it comes to his checking game. He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes there, which is what you need in the bottom six. If we’re not going to score a lot of goals in the bottom six, we want to make sure that we’re at least surpressing scoring chances and he fits that for us.”