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Avalanche Not Satisfied Despite Perfect Start

Colorado players see plenty of areas for improvement

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab / ColoradoAvalanche.com

PITTSBURGH--Then there was one undefeated team remaining in the National Hockey League.

The Colorado Avalanche is the only club that can say it has yet to lose a game in any fashion this season, but that notoriety doesn't mean much for the squad at this point of the 2019-20 campaign. Colorado is only five contests into the 82-game marathon and securing a playoff berth can't be achieved in the first two weeks of the season.

"Obviously 82-0 is not something that is realistic," said veteran forward Nazem Kadri. "There are going to be games where things aren't going to go your way, and you got to be able to battle that adversity. The positive thing for us is that we're 5-0, and in my personal opinion I don't think we've even played our best hockey. We got room for improvement."

Kadri isn't the only player on the roster that sees areas of the team's game that need to be cleaned up. The Avs discussed Tuesday that narrative, which has also been a familiar quote by the squad for much of the past week. In their minds, a solid 60-minute game has yet to be played.

Video: Cale Makar after practice in Pittsburgh

"There is still a lot of stuff that we need to work on as a group," said Cale Makar, who has points in every contest this season but admitted to not playing as good as he could be. "I think we're comfortable with where we're at now, but we know we can be even better."

The Avs' 5-0-0 record is their second-best start since they moved to Colorado in 1995 and is tied for their third best in franchise history, but the players' approach to it is also telling. They are happy with the end results but not satisfied internally with themselves.

According to Kadri, that is a good thing and could bode well for the squad later on.

"Of course, it makes you feel more confident on what you think you could do in the future," Kadri said. "We've played some good teams and had some good team wins, and now it is about trying to put it all together and really be a consistent team."

Video: Nazem Kadri on the Avs' hot start

Among the squads that Colorado has already defeated this year includes the defending Eastern Conference champion Boston Bruins, last year's Western Conference regular-season champion Calgary Flames and, most recently, the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals.

The Avalanche's next test is the Pittsburgh Penguins, the 2016 and 2017 champs and owners of a 4-2-0 mark on the year.

"Whenever you play the Penguins, it's really tough," said Nathan MacKinnon. "We've beaten some good teams this season, Calgary, Boston, Washington and even Arizona. Everybody we have played is a really good team. We're proud of ourselves, but we have a ton of things that we got to get better at and hopefully we can do that tomorrow."

PRACTICE IN PIT

The Avalanche held a 30-minute team session on Tuesday afternoon at PPG Paints Arena, with nearly every player taking the ice.

J.T. Compher continues to skate with the group, but he hasn't played since Oct. 5 against the Minnesota Wild due to a lower-body injury. Joonas Donskoi didn't practice on Tuesday as he was given a maintenance day.

The full-team practice was only half an hour, but some of the players stayed out longer, and in Nathan MacKinnon's case, way longer. MacKinnon skated for an additional 45 minutes, doing extra drills with Matt Calvert and Vladislav Kamenev.

PRACTICE LINE COMBINATIONS

Forwards
92 Gabriel Landeskog - 29 Nathan MacKinnon - 96 Mikko Rantanen
37 J.T. Compher - 91 Nazem Kadri - 95 Andre Burakovsky
83 Matt Nieto - 17 Tyson Jost - 22 Colin Wilson
13 Valeri Nichushkin - 41 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 11 Matt Calvert - 91 Vladislav Kamenev

Defensemen
49 Samuel Girard - 6 Erik Johnson
16 Nikita Zadorov - 8 Cale Makar
27 Ryan Graves - 28 Ian Cole
7 Kevin Connauton - 44 Mark Barberio

Goaltenders
31 Philipp Grubauer
39 Pavel Francouz

Did Not Practice: Joonas Donskoi (maintenance)

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