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Avalanche Notebook: Lehkonen Progressing, Landeskog May Hit Ice Soon




Don’t expect the Colorado Avalanche to have very many full practices the rest of the season. On Friday afternoon, it was an optional skate, which was to be expected after a 6-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. Attendence was pretty solid, with nine skaters hitting the ice, including Sam Girard, who was officially cleared to practice by the NHL and the NHLPA.

There was one pleasant surprise, though.

Artturi Lehkonen, who has been skating on his own up to this point, joined the group for a full skate. He was wearing a red non-contract jersey, but it’s progress from where he has been of late, and that’s all you can ask for.

“He’s getting better and he’s getting close, and I think we hit six weeks yesterday, and it was a 10-12 week timeline,” Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar said. “He’s making progress. He’s feeling better…the goal would be as soon as he’s cleared to play, that he’s already physically ready and he’s in tune with what’s going on.”

One person who obviously was not skating is Captain Gabriel Landeskog. Is that going to change soon?

“Not yet. I do think he’s probably close to hitting the ice,” Bednar said. “That can change at the training in the rehab, but I do think he’s moving in the right direction and it’s on the horizon sometime soon.”

As for on the ice, Bednar said he didn’t hate their game last night. In fact, he liked a lot of their in-zone defensive work. The problem was the rush chances they gave up, especially in the second period. He liked the work ethic, but there’s still lots to clean up.

Ben Meyers was on the ice, but got sent down to the Eagles after practice. Probably a good sign that Andrew Cogliano is ready to go.

I did ask Bednar about Ross Colton at center, and he seems happy with where he’s at. I’ll talk to Colton about how he feels and have that up soon.

From there, with it being an optional day, there was time for some questions that probably wouldn’t be asked most days.

  • For one, I asked Jared Bednar about Jacques Martin, who is 71 years old and back behind the bench. I made sure to point out that Bednar has a long way to go until he reaches that age, but would he still be interested in coaching at that stage of his life?
    • “As long as I have the passion for it,” he said. “It’s long, grueling years, you know? Grinding behind the bench makes you old quick, so we’ll see. I love what I’m doing right now, and I love working with these guys, and the competitive side of me still wants to do that. As long as I have that, then I would continue to coach.”
  • Bednar is happy that the NHL, unlike the NBA and the NFL, gives players and coaches time to get away for Christmas. He mentioned the schedule has been crazy, which is true. The Avalanche will hit 34 games tomorrow, which will be the most in the Central Division before the break hits.
  • What’s his go-to Christmas movie? The correct one…
    • “I like Christmas Vacation, but I’ve been digging into a few. I just watched the new Mark Wahlberg one, that was pretty good.”
  • Hard hitting stuff, I know.
  • I did want to send some love to Peter Baugh from The Athletic, who is leaving the Avalanche beat for his next endeavor. I’ve gotten to know him over the last few years, and he’s a great guy. We’ll miss him in Denver.

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