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Morning Skate Report: Avs Aim to Apply Lessons Learned in Game 1

Avs fell 4-0 in Game 1 on Thursday

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CALGARY, Alberta--The Colorado Avalanche continues its first-ever postseason series with the Calgary Flames tonight, and the team will look to build off of what it learned in Game 1.

The best-of-seven set opened on Thursday night at Scotiabank Saddeldome and the Avs fell 4-0 to the Flames. Colorado shot 26 pucks on the Calgary net and had its fair share of scoring chances, but the squad could not find a way to get one past Flames goaltender Mike Smith.

"We have to trust our instincts and it's not because it's playoffs now you have to overthink when you have the puck and you have scoring chances," said veteran forward Derick Brassard. "We had some odd-man rushes that we didn't end up shooting the puck. Guys were trying to make plays, that's the main thing. You just have to kind of read the play and go with what you have in front of you. There's always the part of going in front of [Smith] and trying to get those dirty goals as well. There's a lot of things that we can do differently offensively."

Colorado is a young team, but it did not have a single player make their postseason debut in Game 1 as all 19 players that hit the ice had appeared in at least one playoff outings before this year. Brassard leads the Avalanche roster with 91 games of playoff experience, and his understanding of what spring hockey is like is something that can help the Avs in this series.  

"I think the skating of this team is one of the biggest strengths, and we have to use it. I think we have an idea of some stuff we can re-adjust from Game 1 to Game 2," added Brassard. "I think holding onto it in the offensive zone is one of them. I feel like when the pace is really high--a lot of teams can't keep up by the end of the season with the pace that we had, and we just have to focus on those things. I mean in the playoffs you can't really stay long on the ice because the game is much harder, there's more intensity, so our shifts got to be a little shorter and get the intensity really high."

Video: Derick Brassard before Avs vs. Flames Game 2

The Avalanche used its skating and skill to win eight of its final 11 games of the regular season and earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The squad's 8-0-2 record from March 17 to April 4 was the best in the NHL and propelled the Avs into its series with the Flames.

Colorado can learn from the way it played during the stretch run of the campaign and use that knowledge in its matchup with Calgary.

"It is going to come down to some of the grit and determination and willingness to hang onto the puck and generate offensively like we have all year," said Colorado head coach Jared Bednar. "I think it is a good lesson for us. In that game, I think we were a little bit tentative and weren't in attack mode enough [like] I think we need to. That has been a strength of our game all year and we got to make sure we are playing to our strengths in this series as well."

Colorado finished the 2018-19 season with the league's seventh-best power play, finding success 22 percent of the time, but the squad was not able to convert on any of its four chances with the extra skater in Game 1.

Calgary added an empty-net goal in the final minutes of Game 1, but before that, two of its tallies came on the power play. The Flames ended up going 2-for-5 with the man advantage in the outing.

"I think there are some thing that we weren't doing. I didn't think that we had a shot mentality, it is a reflection of our 5-on-5 play too," Bednar said of his team's power play in Game 1. "The puck was moving too slow in the offensive zone. A little bit stubborn in looking for plays, I think we got to move it around a little bit and get some pucks and traffic to the net and then attack out of chaos.

"Your power play goes through some ruts, I thought it got better as the game went on. We had a couple really good chances that Smith had big saves on, but definitely we want to make sure that we have that killer instinct right from the start on every power play. Special teams played a huge role in Game 1, and we got to make sure we are winning that battle here tonight."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar before Game 2 in Calgary

LINES THE SAME

The Avalanche is expected to use the same lineup tonight as it did in Game 1, with Nathan MacKinnon centering Alexander Kerfoot and Gabriel Landeskog on a line and Mikko Rantanen playing on a combo with Colin Wilson and Carl Soderberg. 

Philipp Grubauer was the first goaltender off the ice for Colorado, and he is expected to be between the pipes. He stopped 28 of the 31 pucks he saw in the first game of the series on Thursday.

Forward Sven Andrighetto, defensemen Mark Barberio and Ryan Graves and goaltender Joe Cannata will be the healthy scratches for the Avalanche.

VIEW: Avalanche at Flames Game 2 Projected Lineup 

THE LOGISTICS

 

Puck drop is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. MT at Scotiabank Saddledome and can be viewed on NBCSN in the United States and CBC and Sportsnet in Canada. The game is the second half of Hockey Night in Canada doubleheader, with the matchup between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs being the first outing at 6 p.m. MT.

Colorado fans can also watch the game locally on Altitude 2, with pregame coverage beginning at 7:30 p.m. MT. The radio broadcast with Conor McGahey can be heard on Altitude Sports AM 950 in the Denver area or right here on ColoradoAvalanche.com 

The Avalanche is also hosting an official watch party in downtown Denver at Sports Column this evening. In addition to watching Game 2 with fellow fans, the team will also be giving away special prizes, including home game tickets for when the series shifts to Colorado on Monday.

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