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Avs Shuffle Lines at Practice

Matt Nieto joins Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen

by Callie Parmele @CallieParmele /

Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar separated his line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen for practice on Friday.

Matt Nieto was on the left side of MacKinnon and Rantanen for the Avs' hour-long session, while Landeskog was on a combination with second-year forwards J.T. Compher and Alexander Kerfoot.

"We've lost [three] in a row, so we got to change something up," said Landeskog. "Obviously we had some chemistry with me, Mikko and Nate, but I am excited to play with Comph and Kerf. I think Niets is going to do great with Nate and Mikko. It rarely happens that a line stays together for 82 games."

Although it is the first full practice that the trio has been split up for, it isn't the first time this season they have been apart as Bednar has mixed up all of his forward groupings during different contests this season. Most recently, he put Nieto with MacKinnon and Rantanen for the third period of Colorado's outing at the Arizona Coyotes last Saturday.

"We have done it a couple times in the middle of games, and it has paid off in our favor," said Bednar. "We talked to some of our top guys about it and they are open to the change, so we will see what we can do, see if we can find another combination that works for our whole team.

"I like the way [Nieto] skates. He plays the right way, his details are good, heads to the right areas of the ice. I think when he plays with top-end players, he tends to make some plays and I think he has some finish there. I like the speed and pace that he plays at, and he heads to the right areas of the ice."

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after practice

The other two forward lines were a Sheldon Dries-Carl Soderberg-Matt Calvert combo and a Sven Andrighetto-Tyson Jost-Gabriel Bourque group.

All six of Colorado's healthy defensemen participated in the session, and Conor Timmins was also on the ice during practice in a red, non-contact jersey.

Mark Barberio (upper body) continues to progress from his injury as he skated on his own for a bit, while Nikita Zadorov is still out with a lower-body injury. Bednar did not have an update on Zadorov but has said that he is day-to-day.

Goaltender Semyon Varlamov will be in net on Saturday when the Avs take on the Chicago Blackhawks to begin a four-game homestand.

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