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Avs Shore Up Offense in Return to Practice

Avs Shore Up Offense in Return to Practice

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Due to the amount of games the team has had and the NHL's mandatory three-day break for the holidays, the Colorado Avalanche hasn't had a full team practice in more than two weeks.

With Colorado about to begin a two-game homestand against divisional opponents in the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues, the club was finally able to get some quality practice time in at Family Sports Center. The Avs took full advantage of their 50-minute skate on Monday, their first team session since Dec. 15.

"These are points that you want and need, otherwise you have to work twice as hard to make those points up someplace else," head coach Jared Bednar said of Colorado's upcoming divisional matchups. "Our guys are aware of that. We're doing our best to win every game, not just the one against the Central, but we certainly would like to be better against the Central."

The Avalanche made some changes to its top-six forward group at practice, as it split up the combination of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen. MacKinnon centered a line with Landeskog and Joonas Donskoi, while Rantanen joined a unit with Andre Burakovsky and Nazem Kadri.

This isn't the first time this season that Bednar has used these line combinations, but he is looking for ways to generate more offense.

"We expect a lot. We have high expectations for all of our lines," Bednar said. "If they're not producing at a certain clip, at least in the form of creating scoring chances or doing a good enough job on the defensive side of it, then we have options to move things around. I want to be patient, but I don't want to be too patient."

Video: Jared Bednar talks about his line combinations

Colorado spent a significant amount of time of Monday's session working on the power play, including mixing up the two units, all to find more ways to convert on man-advantage chances.

"It's really, really good in some areas and not so good in others," Bednar said. "We just haven't been dangerous enough on it."

The Avalanche hosts the Jets on Tuesday in a New Year's Eve matchup before the defending Stanley Cup champion Blues make their first visit to Pepsi Center this year on Thursday.

PRACTICE LINE COMBINATIONS

Forwards
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 72 Joonas Donskoi
95 Andre Burakovsky - 91 Nazem Kadri - 96 Mikko Rantanen
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 81 Vladislav Kamenev - 11 Matt Calvert
83 Matt Nieto - 17 Tyson Jost - 37 J.T. Compher

Defensemen
16 Nikita Zadorov - 49 Samuel Girard
28 Ian Cole - 6 Erik Johnson
27 Ryan Graves - 8 Cale Makar

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

Did Not Practice: Mark Barberio, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Injuries: Colin Wilson (lower body, out indefinitely)

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