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Avalanche Room: Bench ‘Calm’ During Hectic Second, Praise For Their Goaltender



Avalanche Parise

If you’re starting on the road in the postseason, the ultimate goal is to walk away with a split. Sure, a sweep in Winnipeg would have been nice for the Avalanche, and they probably deserved it with how they played in Game One, but they’ll take a 1-1 series heading back to Denver.

The big story is Alexandar Georgiev and how he bounced back in Game Two. All of his Avalanche teammates gave him love in their postgame scrums, but it all started off the ice. ESPN stopped Georgiev to interview him while the team was coming off the ice, and every single one of his teammates gave him love before they went into the locker room. Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen yelled out, “Big one, Georgie!” His teammates were behind him, and he talked about that after the game.

I asked Avalanche forward Zach Parise what the bench was like during those hectic moments halfway through the second period, and it’s about what I expected. This is a veteran team that isn’t going to get rattled.

That’s about all from Winnipeg. Thank you for all that have contributed to the tip jar. It really means a lot and I truly appreciate it. The Avalanche guaranteed a Game Five with the win, which means I’ll be headed back to Winnipeg in about a week. I’ll be booking my flight in the morning. Back to Fargo and driving it is. Couldn’t the Avalanche have gotten an easier travel matchup?

What the postgame interviews from Devon Toews and Zach Parise, and read what Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar had to say, as well as comments from Josh Manson and Georgiev.

Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews

Avalanche forward Zach Parise

Parise on what the Avalanche bench was like after failing to convert on a four minute powerplay and then giving up a goal:

“Really calm. You can tell it’s a very experienced group. Players that have done it before. There was no, we weren’t shaking. It was a tough break. It went from a 4 minute power play, to us getting a grade-a chance to them scoring. It was a rollercoaster but we liked how we were playing, so it wasn’t anything that we felt like we needed to adjust or change.”

Avalanche Goaltender Alexandar Georgiev and defenseman Josh Manson from the podium

What was this experience like after the past couple of days?

Georgiev: “Super fun. I tried to imagine that feeling of winning the first game of the series for us. Trust the game, enjoy the atmosphere and try to approach it as a new game after the last one.”

Felt your game was pretty good but had mistakes, offense from there. Breakaway out of the box wasn’t what you may have imagined but how did it feel?

Manson: “It felt good. First of all, glory to God. You don’t get those often. And just to be able to put it away, that was nice. It was obviously not my best effort in Game 1, so I wanted to focus on that. Those things happen like that sometimes, so it was nice.”

What was it like to see Parise score that timely goal? And what kind of impact has he had?

Manson: “Well, he’s had that veteran presence, right? And he’s been around for a long time. The way he takes care of himself off of the ice, first of all. Professional. You realize why he’s been around for so long. And then when he comes on the ice, a smart player, knows how to get around, knows how to go to the right areas. You look at the game, it gets tougher, and he ends up scoring a goal. That’s just the kind of player he is and shows the presence that he’s had and why he’s been in the league for so long.”

Early goal against, what’s going through your head?

Georgiev: “I felt I played pretty good in that moment. The puck was going to my right side and he gets the rebound to the left and then it bounces back to the right. Kind of a tough position. And I tried to… it’s a long game, try and reset, keep to my gameplay and trust the process.”

What can you say about Caleb Jones’ play after not getting many opportunities the last few months?

Manson: “Yeah. That’s a really hard thing to do, keep yourself mentally sharp the way that he has. It was a long season of not many games, but being around and continuing the work. For him to step into the lineup in arguably one of the toughest situations, playoffs where the speed is higher, a lot higher, and for him to be able to fill minutes and be solid, it’s a big credit to him. It’s tough to do.”

How critical has Lehkonen been to the Avalanche?

Manson: “Well, he’s a warrior, that guy. We all know. We all call him that. Goes to the hard areas, plays that tough-style game, forechecks hard, blocks shots. Goes to the hard areas and does exactly what we need to do in the playoffs. And I think that’s why you see all of the success he’s had in the playoffs because his game flourishes.”

On striking the balance of shutting things down the third period:

Manson: “I think we have confidence in our defensive structure, we just haven’t shown it as much as we should have. Little mistakes, whatever it may be. We focused on what the plan was coming into the game and I think we just executed well. I don’t want to say everything that we were doing, I just felt like the forwards were getting in lanes, blocking shots. In the third period, I felt there were more blocked shots, sacrificing the body a little bit more and getting that desperation. That’s what it comes to in the D-zone, sometimes you’ve got to get desperate.”

On the support from his Avalanche teammates over the past couple of days and especially tonight:

Georgiev: “They showed so much support to me over the last couple of days. A very rough first game, obviously. I just felt so much trust in the room from everybody and I appreciate it so much. It helped me reset, to know that they have got my back. I know I’ll help them out as well during this playoff. It was huge from them. I appreciate it.”

On drawing on the resilience that has been a calling card since 2022 title run:

Manson: “When you come into the playoffs, you have to be resilient. There are going to be roller coasters, ups-and-downs and with that win in 2022, that was a big focus of ours. Not letting frustration set in, whatever it may be. Just being that resilient, callous brain, where you just keep pushing forward and sticking to your game plan and the results will come. We have a few guys in our room that have been there – and we’ve got more guys that have been in the same situation on other teams in the playoffs. It’s something that we know we have, that resiliency and how important it is in the playoffs. We’ve got guys that know how to do it. It’s good.”

On blocking out the crowd or feeding off of the energy?

Georgiev: “I try to enjoy it. I’ve seen the atmosphere here before on YouTube. It’s one of the more fun buildings probably, in the playoffs, the way that they come together – and the whole crowd is white. It’s super fun, even though I don’t really focus on them. But you feel the energy, you feel the atmosphere, you feel how important it is, how much fun those games are.”

On visualizing winning the first game of the series, did you do anything else to get your head clear coming into tonight’s game?

Georgiev: “A little different routine. A little less shots in the morning skate, I tried to save energy and save the focus for the evening. Just get into the positive mindset and the guys helped me out so much. Just a lot of support overall for everybody.”

Avalanche Head Coach Jared Bednar


“Those details mostly for us after game one having success on the offensive side were defensive details, right? I didn’t love them in the first. You saw some of the chances. We got beat to the net in the D-zone a couple of times. We got beat to the net off the rush a couple times. That’s how they created their scoring chances. It’s really that simple. When you tighten the gap on a guy, you’ve got to beat him back to the net. (In the) D-zone, if you go finish the guy in the corner and they move it someplace, you at least have to beat him back to the net and then adjust from there within the structure of our game. We have our details we talk about when it comes to that. First period, we weren’t great, but (Georgiev) was excellent. Then in the second and third, we got better and better. I thought the second period, we were really good on the defensive side and we continue to push offensively. Goals were harder to come by tonight than the other night for both teams. So no question, there was improvement there.”


“I’m not going to go into specifics, but at the end of the day, defending is hard work. It’s commitment. It’s … they know us and we know them, right? So there’s certain things that regardless of who you’re playing, like a couple of things that I just touched on – getting beat back to the net, making sure we’re physical enough and we’re winning enough races, enough battles. Details within our defensive zone coverage – it can’t be a sometimes thing. It’s got to be an all the time thing. You’re still going to make some mistakes and you need other guys to cover up those mistakes. We did do a great job of that at times. For the most part our puck management throughout both of these games has been OK. It’s making sure that we’re defending with enough importance that we can get going on the offensive side of things. We’ve found over the course of this year, last year, multiple years with the bulk of our core together, the better that we defend the more offensive that we create. And it’s not always the case, but like this time of year, you can’t make structural mistakes and get beat in certain areas because it’s going to lead to scoring chances against just because the intensity of the game and the way other teams are playing and how quickly they can get on the attack. Tonight, we were certainly much better than the other night. We can still make improvements on what we did tonight as well.”


“He’s been fantastic for us. We’ve talked about motivation for our team. This is a guy that’s come out of retirement, that had multiple options on teams where he could go and he decided to come to us. We’d love to win for him. He plays the game the right way. He’s committed on both sides of the puck. He has been chipping in on the defensive side, the offensive side. He plays a little PK, plays a little power play. And he’s excited about these playoffs. He’s really excited about the opportunity that’s in front of us. To see him score that goal and watch that forecheck and he gets rewarded for his hard work, I mean that’s just the type of stuff that can get contagious in the locker room. Our guys are always excited for their teammates when they have success or score make big plays defensively, but for a guy like Zach I think it’s even a little bit more so because we know he’s an aging player and he’s a guy that is taking one of his last kicks at the can to try and raise the Stanley Cup. We’d love to be able to help them do that.”


“This guy is … he’s a competitive, competitive guy. When you talk about all-around, good players that play the game the right way, and it’s not always showing up on the stat sheet for a guy like (Lehkonen). I can pick guys around the league that I’m a big fan of the way they play for multiple reasons. He’s one of them. When you do the right things all the time, day-after-day, practice, games, and you’re an intense competitor, it’s going to pay off for you at some point. I feel like we’ve seen that out of (Lehkonen). Big moments, just doing the right thing. Competing hard, great detail to his game, high level of skill and ability. That’s all you can ask for from a player. He’s never going to shortchange you on his effort, his competitiveness, the work he puts into the game. He’s one of those guys. It’s a coach’s dream. I’m sure the Jets have their guys that they like. We have ours. Every team will have specific players that are just easy to coach and love coming to the rink. Competing is a big part of that. That’s what he gives you on a nightly basis.”

What makes the Avalanche so formidable at home?

“Our fans and our building over the course of my time in Denver have been phenomenal. Through the regular season … it’s 100-plus sellouts in a row. Our fans are diehard fans, and they love our team. I think they have a really good understanding of what our guys pour into every season. We’ve had some success. They can appreciate the work that we put in and the desire that we have to win in front of them. They’ve helped us get there. We’ve been a really good home team this year and our fans and the city of Denver have supported us. I think our guys understand that. They want to come out onto the ice every time and put their best foot forward, put on a show, be entertaining and play the right way. … Our guys really understand that, truly, deeply in their heart, that we have to put our best foot forward and reward our fans for supporting us. They’ve done a nice job of it and I think the city recognizes that. It’s a fun place to play. And this was a great environment. One of the best I’ve been in and I know our building is going to be rocking when we get back home.”

What can you say about Kiviranta and Jones being ready to play for the Avalanche for the playoffs?

“When you play limited minutes and a limited role on a team, you have to adjust year to year, depending on what your role is on any team, right? Those guys have done a nice job of focusing in on what they need to do to have success, what their role is, not trying to do too much, but still not trying to do too little in games. Not being too safe. Kivi, with the depth that we added at the deadline, he’s been in and out of the lineup. His role changes. We get the injury to Drouin. But you look at his game over the last six weeks. It’s difficult to stay in the moment and bring your best when you’re in and out. … We’ve tried to do a good communicating as a staff on what we need from him when he’s in. He’s been outstanding in this series so far for me. Jumping in on the third line on the Colton-Wood line and they’ve been impactful. Jonesy, same thing. He continues to work. He understands that he’s got to stay game ready. Lots of practice time for him and lots of extra work with the goalies … to try and stay sharp as he can. He clearly has a really nice skill set and ability to help us. We’ve been a deep team on the back end and we’ve been relatively healthy at times this year. But now he jumps in for Girard and he’s done a nice job. It’s all you can ask. It’s hard to scratch them and keep them out of the lineup at times. But you’re going to play what you feel is the best lineup on any given night. They understand that and are bought in. … Great teammates, both of them.”

We had a chance to catch up Georgiev a moment ago. He told us how he visualized having success tonight and altering his morning skate routine a little bit to have that clear head. Are you just impressed with the way that he was able to rebound and really give you guys a solid outing?

“Fantastic. Hey, listen,more so than any other player on your team, the goalie, and some of your stars, when things go well, they’re gonna get the credit, and when things go poorly, they’re gonna take a lot of the blame, right? It is what it is, and nobody’s perfect. You can imagine coming in here, not having a good night as a team, not having a good night on the defensive side. If you give up seven as a goalie, like what type of things you read online, what you’re hearing from everyone. Everyone just goes immediately to doubt and criticism, so to be able to sort of put that aside, focus on his process just like we would with the team, be mentally strong, resilient, and then go out and prove people wrong again too, that’s a tough job to do because you are the last line of defense. 50% of the questions I’ve had over the last three days through three media availabilities are going to be able to Georgie, right? To be able to fight through that, get focused in on what he needs to do. I thought he was outstanding, and he deserves all the credit, because our team was better, but it wasn’t that much better. But he was much better, and he gave us a chance to win, and we did win, and now we gotta go repeat it. We still feel like, whether it’s Georgie, our team, whatever, we’re gonna push to try and be as close to perfect as possible without being uptight about it, right? Being able to move on after mistakes and keep playing, because again, the only score that matters is the one at the end of the game and I think he really kind of was able to put that early goal behind him, stay focused on what he needed to do. I give him all the credit in the world. That’s not easy, and our team’s in full support of what he’s capable of doing and what we think he can do.”

Do you ever see your Avalanche squad stray from their structure or overcompensate in any way?

“No, I don’t, and we don’t want them to. Like, I’ve read things online. Everyone’s like, well, the Avs got to adjust, they’ve got to pack it in, they got to do this and that. We’re not going to adjust our entire game plan based on if Georgie is playing well or not well. He has a job to do, we have a job to do, we’re not changing. We’ll tweak things based on what the Jets are doing and what we feel are important, but we’re not going to change it for someone in our lineup, right? If Georgie couldn’t do the job, then we’ll put the next guy in and see if he can. This isn’t a time, when you play 82 games all year and you’ve had success and you’ve won 50 games, to all of a sudden just change what you do because of one player, right? People that say that online or whatever, like to me, it’s not realistic. And we know he can do it. He led the league in wins this year. So that’s what we go with. We help him try and be better, give him a clearer picture on what we’re going to do, and our D has to tighten up and our team has to tighten up in front of him to make sure we’re not giving up the scoring chances that we did. Some of the games where he gets criticized. I can go through those goals against and say, how are you going to blame him? Would I like to see him come up with a couple of saves here and there? Yeah, but at the end of the day, they’re all earned goals, or things that we could have done better in front of him. And when we play better and better, as we did through the second and third period on the defensive side, he’s making the saves he’s supposed to make, so it’s not it’s not an individual game. This is a team game and I think our guys understand that. I think Georgie understands. We’re still gonna push to be better as individuals and as a team, but we’ll also win and lose as a team. That’s just the way it is.”

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