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Greer Keeping With His Game In NHL Return

The rookie was recalled from the AHL along with Gabriel Bourque and both will play against Dallas

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Nothing changes in A.J. Greer's mindset now that he's in the NHL after beginning this season in the American Hockey League. He still wants to be a dependable power forward that isn't afraid to hit or muck it up with opponents in front of the net.

Even after missing the second half of the preseason and the first few weeks of the main campaign with a concussion, Greer is determined to play the same style that he was known for during his time with Boston University, Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL, San Antonio of the AHL and last year with the Colorado Avalanche.

"I think I showed them a little bit of what I could last year, and it is a matter of bringing that energy and bringing that game again toward this year," Greer said. "Staying positive and doing the right things."

Colorado head coach Jared Bednar isn't expecting anything different from Greer than what he saw during the forward's five NHL contests in 2016-17 and at September's training camp.

"He's got to be physical. He's got to play in straight lines and his details have to be tight, and I think he has the ability to do that," Bednar said following Monday's practice. "He had a good weekend down there in San Antonio, but he hasn't played much either. He's a guy that we liked through training camp."

Greer and fellow forward Gabriel Bourque were recalled from the San Antonio Rampage on Sunday and participated in their first Avalanche practice of the regular season on Monday.

Both forwards impressed Bednar during training camp, though Greer's was shortened after he suffered a concussion from a fight in his lone preseason outing on Sept. 21 against the Dallas Stars. He finally returned to game action on Friday and played in San Antonio's first two games of a 3-in-3 weekend.

"Both those guys made statements in camp and there was discussion on if those guys should start the year with us," Bednar said. "With our numbers, they weren't able to, so those are the first two guys we're calling up to give them an opportunity here. They both have specific roles they can play with our team."

Video: A.J. Greer on getting back into NHL action

Colorado's contest against the Stars on Tuesday will be a rematch of sorts for Greer and will mark his first NHL regular-season outing since Nov. 23 against the Edmonton Oilers.

The rookie from Joliette, Quebec, is more confident entering his current stint with the Avalanche than when he was at this time last season.

"Definitely takes out a bit of the nervousness a bit," Greer said of already having some experience with the Avs. "I'm a little more comfortable with the pace of play and the guys around here and acclimating pretty good. Now it is just putting in the work and the games and enjoy the moment."

Playing in the NHL is nothing new for Bourque as the native of Rimouski, Quebec, has appeared in 246 games over the past six seasons. He played the first six contests with Colorado last year after making the team on a professional tryout but ended up spending the rest of the campaign with the Rampage.

Bourque said he learned a lot from his time in the minors last season, and it gave him the fire to return to the NHL. He, along with Greer, was one of the final roster moves the Avs made to get down to their initial opening-night lineup.

"I have confidence. I know what to do. I've been around the league," Bourque said. "I know my roles, and I know what kind of game [to play] to stay here. I don't put pressure on myself, have fun and try to win every game."

Video: Gabriel Bourque on joining the Avalanche

Bourque said his best chance to stay in the top league in the world would be to continue his solid play as a penalty killer while also being smart defensively on the fourth line. Given what situations he practiced in on Monday, it appears as if Bednar will give him that special teams and bottom-six opportunity.

"I'm excited," Bourque said. "I'm happy I got my chance early in the season. Got to work hard and do my job."

Bourque and Greer are getting their break in the NHL after Colorado suffered several injuries in its last game on Thursday against the St. Louis Blues.

Rookie forwards J.T. Compher (broken thumb, out indefinitely) and Tyson Jost (lower body, 2-3 weeks) will miss significant time while the injuries to veterans Patrik Nemeth (lower body) and Colin Wilson (undisclosed) are more of the day-to-day variety.

Both Nemeth and Wilson tried to take part in the Avalanche's team practice on Monday, but neither could finish the on-ice session and won't play versus Dallas, according to Bednar.

Video: Coach Bednar gives an update on Avs

One player that surprisingly took the ice for a little bit was Compher, who skated before the team session in a red non-contact jersey.

"The nature with his industry with his thumb, the one good thing is that he'll be able to stay on the ice and keep his skating legs," Bednar said. "They're going to work hard in the gym, all those guys, but some of them are restricted to what they can do. Where Compher is able to do everything lower body; he'll be able to skate and do lots of cardio and at some point we'll be able to get him into a brace that he can play or handle pucks with and get his hands back and get ready to go. When he's cleared, hopefully he comes back right where he left off."

With only 18 healthy skaters, Colorado recalled defenseman Andrei Mironov from the Rampage on Monday afternoon to help give the team some flexibility in case there is a last-minute injury.

Bednar said defenseman Chris Bigras will return to the lineup on Tuesday after being a healthy scratch last game and goaltender Semyon Varlamov will start in net.

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