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Avalanche Skate: Girard Improving, Goaltender In Question For Thursday




It’s weird that the Colorado Avalanche suddenly have a lot of time to practice, but with the schedule the way it is, Jared Bednar has got some time to whip his team into shape.

Maybe a little too much time, actually.

Before practice could even get started, Bednar spent 10 minutes on the drawing board in front of his team. No, he wasn’t telling them everything that went wrong over the weekend, but rather drawing up what the drills were going to look like for a relatively long practice. By doing that, he doesn’t have to stop practice multiple times over the course of an hour.

The Avalanche will practice again tomorrow, something they didn’t do last week with an extended break between games, but how much rest is too much?

“We haven’t responded well to days off going into games. I’ve said this all along,” Bednar said. “We’re better on the second half of a back-to-back than after a day off, just even our energy and the way we play.”

Players are creatures of habit, so I know they don’t like all this extra time off. They’d rather be playing games, but they can’t control the schedule.

They’ll likely have even more time off coming up, as the rumored start date of the Colorado/Winnipeg series is Monday. It could still happen Sunday, but Monday is what everyone is hearing at the moment.

It seems like there’s a chance the Avalanche will have Sam Girard back when that series does start, so maybe an extra day isn’t the worst thing. He skated alone on Tuesday morning, and is feeling better.

“Went through a pretty good skate and started doing drills at the end, so it’s a positive sign,” Bednar said.

It’s entirely possible this game on Thursday doesn’t mean anything. If Winnipeg picks up a single point tonight, they will clinch home-ice advantage in round one. Bednar says he’d talk to some of the guys about resting on Thursday if that does happen, but that would be a long time between games.

One thing Bednar and the staff haven’t decided on just yet (or maybe they have and aren’t telling us) is the starting goaltender against the Oilers. Alexandar Georgiev started both games over the weekend for the Avalanche, although he didn’t last very long in one of them. That took away a start from Justus Annunen, and Bednar admitted the staff is considering giving Annunen the game on Thursday.

“Our goalies have been playing the best when we’ve been playing both of them,” Bednar said. “I do not want either guy sitting for too long because we may need them.”

I will say that sounds like a slight change in attitude from coach, but maybe I’m reading too much into it. I would be absolutely stunned if Georgiev isn’t the starter in game one, but it sure sounds like he knows he might need to go to Annunen at some point. He probably doesn’t want to, but with the way the season has gone for Georgiev, it may have to happen.

Other News And Notes

  • Bednar said that Gabriel Landeskog is “not close” to joining team practices. Again, as I’ve been saying lately, there’s not much to really update here.
  • When asked about the play of Casey Mittelstadt, Bednar said he’s in a “lull” right now and not creating as much offense as they’d like. I’ll probably have more on that soon. Bednar said they had a good talk with video the other day about the systems with him.
    • “It’s still being able to be responsible within he structure of the game, but let loose and let your instincts take over at times.”
  • Rantanen was back on a line with MacKinnon and Drouin, while Mittelstadt centered Nichushkin and Lehkonen. Bednar said they have data on a lot of combinations now when it comes to what they might have to use in the future.
  • We haven’t talked to Rantanen since the hit that knocked him for a week, but he said he got a little lucky with everything. He didn’t have any hard symptoms after the game, but knew he was going to get pulled from the game as soon as he started stumbling.
    • “I have a big head. Hopefully it helps me,” Rantanen joked.

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