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Avalanche Blog: Zamboni And All, Landeskog Keeps Pushing



Avalanche Landeskog

It was an odd day at practice for the Colorado Avalanche. Not because of anything that happened on the ice, but because there really isn’t a ton to talk about at the moment.

With Dallas and Vegas going seven games, the team doesn’t know who their opponent is, and no one seems to know when the next series will start. My best guess is that it will start Tuesday, but that’s just a guess.

Upon arrival, Gabriel Landeskog and Joel Kiviranta were working on their own on a separate sheet of ice from the rest of the team. When it came time to start practice, the Avalanche took over that sheet, while Landeskog and Kiviranta moved to the other sheet. Landeskog wanted to keep working, but the ice crew had other ideas. They needed to Zamboni the ice for when the rest of the team came back over for special teams work. They had a quick chat with the Captain, but that didn’t do anything.

He kept going.

After pushing himself some more, he came over and joined the rest of the team. Not to practice or anything like that, but be the hype man on the bench.

This coming Friday marks the one year anniversary of Landeskog’s cartilage transplant surgery. I still think it’s highly unlikely he comes back to play this season, but when you see him on days like today, you know just how hard he’s pushing to get back and help his team. The movements he was doing today (not on video) looked pretty intense for the knee, so he’s definitely testing his limits at this point. If he can’t come back this year, having him around the team is the next best thing for everyone.

Speaking of pushing it, the rest of the team went hard for the second straight day. There were no changes to the lines, and Jared Bednar, who didn’t speak on Saturday, got in a lot of 5-on-5 work before switching to special teams. That intensity will keep up until they’ve got a set schedule.

“I think that’s a key, to have a good practice,” Mikko Rantanen said after the skate. “You don’t want to get too happy that we played well and then practice like horse****, because then I think it goes to the games if you don’t practice well.”

Kiviranta didn’t practice with the team, but the time off does give him a few extra days to get healthy for Game One, if he can. Nikolai Kovalenko practiced on that line again, and at one point, went bar down on a 2-on-1, which drew a bunch of cheers from everyone on the ice. That’s one of the things the leaders on the team have focused on with the youngster, who has been thrown a lot in the last week.

“(We) try to keep him light, not to think about it too much,” Rantanen said. “Coaches show him more video and stuff, and we try to pump his tires and get him up to play well and not be scared to make plays, and play with his strengths, which I think he did. I can’t imagine how tough it is to come from Europe, and to come from European ice to small ice when it’s playoffs and it’s physical and the game is so fast, comes straight at your face. I think he did a good job and tells how smart a player he is.”

I’ll have a longer piece on Kovalenko tomorrow, as he spoke to me for about 15 minutes yesterday. Just tightening that up.

The Avalanche will take Sunday off, and by the next time they practice, they will know their opponent and a round two schedule. That will certainly make things more interesting, and I’m sure the players are eager to get going again. You don’t mind the rest at this time of the year when everyone is beat up, but you don’t want to sit around for too long.

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