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A Little Win Can Go A Long Way

by Ryan Boulding @rboulding /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--There's something about winning that makes life a little bit sweeter.

The air seems fresher to breathe, the world appears a little bit brighter and things just generally feel easier and more weightless.

That isn't a feeling that the Colorado Avalanche has had much of lately, and although it was only a single victory--3-1 over the visiting Carolina Hurricanes--the team still carried that special sensation with it into practice on Wednesday.

"When you win, everything just feels a little bit better no matter how far out of it you are," defenseman Erik Johnson said. "Just driving home from the rink after the game, driving to the rink this morning, you can feel a little bit better after you win a game. Losing drains a lot of energy and a lot of positivity from guys, so just even getting a win can do a lot for confidence, and scoring a couple goals will help, too. It's good. No matter how far out of it we are, to get any type of win is big."

Video: Erik Johnson on being back in the lineup

That isn't to say everything is sunshine and tulips in the dressing room, but a victory can go a long way in helping Colorado build a stronger future moving forward.

"I think we're happy we broke out of the little slump there and won a game," Johnson said. "It's still an embarrassment that we are where we are. That shouldn't happen, but what can you do? You got to just come to work every day with a smile on your face and try your best and play for the fans and the logo and just do the best you can no matter what predicament you're in."

Winning breeds confidence and confidence breeds winning. The two go hand-in-hand, and they're both things the Avalanche wants more of during the final five weeks of the 2016-17 campaign.

"Hopefully yesterday's game gives us a little bit of confidence. I think one of the major reasons we won yesterday was the way our team pulled together instead of kind of dwelling on the negative and getting caught looking at the big picture," said head coach Jared Bednar. "The focus was narrow, it was on that night. [Carolina] scored first. We've had trouble rebounding from that recently, but we stuck with it. Going through close to 40 minutes still at 1-0 for them, our guys were still upbeat and positive, and that's something we'll stress to them--the way we handled that last game. Hopefully we can reproduce that again tomorrow night.

"We got to go out and play hard like we did yesterday. We got to be positive, bring that energy that we had yesterday on the bench and on the ice."

Video: Update on the Avs from head coach Jared Bednar

Building on the positive feelings, actions and accomplishments is something the Avalanche looked to do during Wednesday's session at Family Sports Center. The players know that they're at a low point, but they can work hard to make things better.

"The team as a group is not going to have much confidence just because of where they're at," Johnson said of the current situation. "For me coming back from the injury, I'm trying to bring as much positivity and energy as I can--since I'm a part of the team, but when you're hurt you're not really part of it. So you just try and keep the guys focused and let guys know that it's a privilege to be in the NHL and there's a handful of guys in the minors who would be champing at the bit to be in our situation, no matter how bad it is. You have to treat every day like it's your last and treasure every day you're here."

Bednar challenged his team, especially the core, to play better together. He wanted his best players to drive the action while the supporting cast was consistent. That's what happened on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center.

"It's not like we haven't challenged them on that before, but when you go through some of the stuff we've been through it's hard," Bednar said. "I know for myself losing games takes a day or two to rebound and try to get your mindset back to being positive on the game night and kind of turning the page. As much as we talk about it, it's kind of difficult to do.

"The stretch run being five weeks left, trying to gain some traction with our team, especially with our core, it's important that we're able to do that, and they handled it well yesterday and got the job done. I know there was an internal push from the players of kind of trying to support our leadership when they are positive instead of just being quiet and reserved on the bench, and it carried through our bench and it was noticeable."

Video: J.T. Compher talks about his first games in the NHL

Wednesday's focus was maintaining the attention to detail, the positive energy and the confidence gained from Tuesday's victory in the practice session between contests. Thursday's directive will be to do the same against the visiting New Jersey Devils.

"It's definitely a little easier to come to the rink after you win, and I think everyone was happy with the way they played last night. It's something we need to continue going forward and keep the momentum rolling," said rookie forward J.T. Compher. "It started today, making sure we were ready for practice. We were out there for about an hour, working hard and being detailed and making sure tomorrow we're ready to go again."

According to Bednar, Calvin Pickard will get the start against the Devils. After that, his game roster is still in flux.

"I'm still contemplating a couple things with the lineup," he said. "Pick is going to go back in goal though."

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