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Avalanche Aims For More Net Traffic in Game 2

Colorado couldn't beat Calgary goalie Mike Smith in the first outing

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CALGARY, Alberta--As the Colorado Avalanche reflected on its performance in the first game of its Stanley Cup Playoffs series against the Calgary Flames, the team saw too many scoring chances come up empty and not enough desperation that is needed in order to prevail in a best-of-seven set.

"I think our team is still a confident team, and we know this is a challenge," said head coach Jared Bednar on Friday as the Avs prepare for Game 2. "Our mindset has to be that nothing will come easy in the series, and if we're prepared for that and we feel like we can be better as individuals and as a group tomorrow night then that is an encouraging thing for me. I think [the players] believe that we can. I think they believe that we can win the game. I think they are eager to prove that that wasn't our best and that we have more to give and that is what we expect tomorrow night."

The Avs generated 26 shots on goal in Game 1 on Thursday but none of them could get past Flames goaltender Mike Smith. Colorado had several odd-man rushes in the contest, but they either couldn't get off a shot or were stymied by the glove of Smith.

In Game 2, Bednar wants his club to do a better job of getting into shooting lanes and making it tough for Smith to get a read on the puck.

"We made it a little bit easy on him last night," said the Colorado bench boss. "He made some big saves off the rush and in a couple different situations, but too many times we allowed him to see the puck and establish his position. I think if we get a little more traffic there that will help.

Getting greasy type of goals is a necessity in the postseason as teams don't give up much space for skillful shots to find the back of the net. Instead, it's about tallying off deflections, rebounds and with bodies constantly around the net-that's how Calgary scored its three non-empty-net goals versus Colorado.

"I think we can get a little bit hungrier than that," said Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen. "We didn't get a lot of rebound chances; they always cleared the puck or something like that. We have to get two guys in front of the net and try to bang away. I think that's the key in the playoffs."

Rantanen was one of 13 players to take part in the Avs' optional practice at WinSport Arena on Friday afternoon. All three of Colorado's goaltenders took the ice, while six forwards and four defensemen also suited up after the team reviewed video from the previous night.

"You just got to forget about it and I'm sure they'll do the same thing. Can't hang on to wins or losses, that's why you play a long series," said veteran defenseman Erik Johnson. "So I'm sure they'll be better, we'll need to be better and it should be a lot of fun. It was a good atmosphere last night and we expect the same tomorrow."

QUOTABLES 

Head Coach Jared Bednar on Game 1: "I think from a competitive standpoint, we lost that game a little bit, and we have to make sure that we do a better job on our forecheck and offensive zone play and possessing the puck. It's easier said than done because they'll clamp down on you with five guys, but we got to find a way to get the puck moving in the offensive zone and then get some more traffic in front of Smith."

Video: Jared Bednar after an optional practice in Calgary

Defenseman Erik Johnson on adjustments in a seven-game series: "You just look at the game and see what you can do better. It's pretty simple--they'll make adjustments of things they didn't like, we'll make adjustments we didn't like and go from there. They had I think eight or nine shots with about six or seven minutes left to go in the second and we had some really really good looks. A couple 2-on-1s we didn't even really get any shots off of so, we get up 1 or 2-0 it could be a different game. They're a really good team, they're deep, they roll four lines and it's going to be a good series. We want to even it up here and kind of switch that home ice back to Denver."

Video: Erik Johnson after a practice in Calgary

Right Wing Mikko Rantanen on take advantage of power plays: "I think it's big. You saw last night they scored two power-play goals and one 5-on-5 and that's the game for them. When you get four chances you have to at least get one. As a unit, we can for sure talk about that tomorrow more and try to figure out what we can do maybe better. But I believe in our group and I think we're going to do it tomorrow."

Video: Mikko Rantanen on how he felt in Game 1

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