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Avs Rest Up For Caps

Colorado focuses on recovery during busy stretch of the season

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The Colorado Avalanche had an optional practice on Wednesday at Family Sports Center after winning 3-0 against the Ottawa Senators the previous night.

Colorado now prepares for the second game of a five-game homestand on Thursday versus the Washington Capitals before heading to the U.S. Air Force Academy for Saturday's Stadium Series outdoor game versus the Los Angeles Kings. The five home outings are played every other day and the Avs are in a stretch of playing 11 games in 19 days.

Head coach Jared Bednar is trying to find the right balance of rest, evaluation and on-ice work during this busy time of the season.

"I think these days are important. We thought about practicing today and have an optional skate tomorrow, and we evaluated our game last night," Bednar said. "I touched on it briefly (postgame), I didn't think we had as much pop in our legs as we had in some previous games on the (recent) road trip. You get back, you have a quick day break and then you're back at it. I thought our intentions were good, but our last bit of execution wasn't great. So that could be a focus thing and being mentally tired."

Only a handful of skaters and goaltender Pavel Francouz took the ice for the optional skate, working with performance consultant Shawn Allard on a range of drills. Some players skated for only 20 minutes or so, while others, like Tyson Jost, were out there for almost an hour working on their craft.

Video: Avs coach Jared Bednar after the optional practice

The Capitals come to Denver having lost two straight and are 2-4-0 in their last six games, but they remain the leaders in the Metropolitan Division and are three points behind first place in the league. Forward Alex Ovechkin has 14 goals in his last nine games played and is two away from 700 for his career.

This is the final meeting of the season between the clubs. Colorado won 6-3 on Oct. 14 in Washington, D.C., in the Avs' fifth game of the year and first on the road.

"One of the things that they have the ability to do is that they're a big, strong, heavy team," Bednar said of the Capitals. "They know how to win and they know how to play… That is no different from Dallas, St. Louis, some of the big, heavy teams that we play in the West. That is part of their game, and we're going to have to deal with. It's going to be a competitive game, they want the points, they're fighting for first, and so are we. It's fun games to play."

The game time for Thursday's matchup has been changed from 7 p.m. MT to 7:30 p.m. MT, the league announced on Tuesday. The contest will be televised locally on Altitude, while viewers outside of the Colorado market can watch the game live on NBCSN.

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