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Avalanche Skate: Byram On Meeting, Getting Comfortable On Off-Side



Avalanche Byram MacKinnon

Earlier in the season, when the Colorado Avalanche were looking to try Bowen Byram with Samuel Girard, it was Byram who was stuck playing his off-side. At the end of last season, Byram told me he’d never played the right side before, and at the start of the year, you could tell he wasn’t quite comfortable there.

That’s starting to change.

“I’m actually enjoying it a lot right now,” Byram told me of playing the off-side. “Playing with Jack (Johnson), I feel like we’ve kind of found some chemistry together and it’s been a lot of fun. It took me a bit to adjust to that side, but I think it just comes down to moving my feet. When you’re on that side, you get stuck in some awkward positions, so you’ve just got to use your feet and skate out of it sometimes. Just trying to continue to improve on that.”

Byram was one of the skaters who took part in an optional skate for the Avalanche. Nathan MacKinnon was another, although he usually sticks to one end of the ice on his own, working on whatever he chooses. When it came time to test out his one-timer, he recruited Byram to send him some passes.

Right now, things are going well for the 22 year old defenseman. He’s got six points in his last three games, and looks far more involved. After Sunday’s win, Jared Bednar said that Nolan Pratt, who runs the defense for the Avalanche, had a meeting to go over some video with Byram last week.

What did that video meeting consist of?

“We just talked about when I’m playing at my best and what I’m doing on the ice,” Byram said. “Watched some video on just games where we both thought I played well, and we just talked about my year to date. I was trying to turn the page on that. Obviously, it’s gone well so far.”

Byram said he’s making it a point to tell himself to skate. Earlier in the year, he felt he was trying to think his way through games and not use his feet. The difference has certainly been noticeable, and when the young defenseman is on his game, he’s a player other teams don’t have much of an answer for.

It’s hard enough to defend Cale Makar and Devon Toews, but when Byram is activating on the next shift, not every team can handle that.

Other News And Notes

  • Speaking of defense, the Avalanche have had their top six healthy and together for a while now, but the results haven’t been there. Defense isn’t just the responsibility of the blueliners though, and Bednar was pretty honest when assessing the team defense to date.
    • “I think it’s been sporadic, inconsistent, which I think is normal,” Bednar said. “I think every team, even the good teams, go through stretches of games where you’re not playing as committed when you’d like to defensively…I would say it hasn’t been great. I would say it’s been really good at times, and then other times, like this last little stretch has been poor.”
    • Bednar mentioned segment three (games 21-30) where the team struggled defensively, but worked their way out of it, and sometimes the results take a little longer to come even if you’re working the right way.
  • The Avalanche may face an angry Vancouver team tomorrow. The Canucks gave up a whopping 10 goals today against the Minnesota Wild, and somehow gave the opposition four 5-on-3 advantages. They still lead the Western Conference with 80 points, but they might not be in the best mood when they get to town.

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