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Avalanche Room And Recap: Nichushkin, The Hero; Mittelstadt On Adjustment



Avalanche Mittelstadt

It cannot be easy to play a hockey game with that many new faces in the lineup, but through it all, the Colorado Avalanche walked away with a big 2-1 overtime victory against the Minnesota Wild.

Prior to leaving the Avalanche lineup back on Jan. 10 to enter the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program, Valeri Nichushkin had scored six goals in six games, five of which came on the powerplay.

Sure, he looked a little sloppy on Friday night, which you had to expect in his first game in two months, but it was a fitting ending with him scoring the overtime winner.

On the powerplay, of course.

The other star of the game was Alexandar Georgiev, who stopped 29 of 30 shots for another victory. There’s a lot riding on him down the stretch, but he seems to be getting into a bit of a groove in net. He made several huge stops, including one on a Kaprizov breakaway in the third period.

It looked like it was going to be a blowout, as the Avalanche scored just 42 seconds in, but with four new faces and Nichushkin returning from a long absence, things were a little discombobulated for the home team. They eventually got things settled down, and all the new faces will have a few days to relax before their next game.

After the game, Nathan MacKinnon, who extended his home point streak to 32 games, spoke to the media about how difficult a game it is to play, and Casey Mittelstadt talked about how much he’s looking forward to a day off.

In addition, read Jared Bednar’s thoughts on the night and the performance of his team in the win over the Wild.

Nathan MacKinnon

Casey Mittelstadt

Jared Bednar on the game overall from the Avalanche:

“It was okay. Nothing that was probably too unexpected. We worked hard, we checked hard, until probably the last 10 minutes of the game. We had a couple breakdowns. Our breakdowns were big breakdowns for Grade-A’s, but most of them came late in the game and they were individuals getting beat one-on-one. It wasn’t from lack of effort, or not trying to do the right thing. Overall, good effort. I just felt like we had a tough time getting through the neutral zone tonight. Not disciplined enough with our puck play. Too much east-west, and that’s what they’re good at. Didn’t spend a lot of time in our zone, but didn’t spend enough time in the offensive zone either. At the end of the day, we get some big saves, we score a couple of timely goals. We did a nice job not he penalty kill, at times. We end up getting the win, even though it wasn’t the prettiest game of the year.”

Jared Bednar on the upcoming days for the Avalanche:

“Got to keep working on the chemistry. We have a perfect schedule for it now. We get a day off to rest. Got to remember too, all those new guys coming in the last couple of days into altitude. You could tell they were feeling that and some of them probably didn’t have their jump and lungs that you’d want them to have in order to be big difference makers, but they all played well.”

Bednar on Trenin‘s fit:

“I wanted him to play on that third line and be part of that identity. He’s been playing wing mostly this year. I talked to him this morning and before the game, and he’s only played a handful of games at center, but he is pretty good on the face-offs. All of our penalty killers are wingers, so having a guy that can go out and do the job that he did tonight on the face-offs is helpful, and he was really good there.”

Bednar on going back to the basics with the new guys:

“What we showed the new guys coming in is a cliff note version of our training camp video. I don’t want them thinking too much, but that’s why we’ll pick at it. It doesn’t have to be perfect right now, but it does have to be perfect 16 games from now.”

Bednar on having Nichushkin back:

“It’s great to have him back and it’s great to see the support he’s getting from our fans. I think it goes to show you how much they care about our players and our players obviously care about our fans. It can help a guy mentally when he’s feeling supported by the community and by our fans, I think it’s important. No better start to his return.”

“He’s the consummate professional. He’s one of our guys, and we have lots of them, but trains hard to get himself physically ready. He’s dialed into all the details. That’s what makes him so successful. It’s not just his size, strength, skating ability. That is a natural part, but he works at that hard. He is a dialed in player when it comes to every aspect of the game, that’s why he’s on the ice when we’re up goals, when we’re down goals, when we’re defending leads, etc.”

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