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Avalanche Not Satisfied With Solid Preseason

Colorado is preparing for the season opener after going 4-2-0 in exhibition play

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--The preseason is officially in the books for the Colorado Avalanche and the team's energy is now entirely on preparing for the season opener at the New York Rangers.

Colorado finished its exhibition slate with a 4-2-0 record after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 on Thursday, but there are still plenty of areas in the team's game that need work before the contests start counting in the standings. The Avs have a full week between outings as they kick off the 2017-18 campaign next Thursday at Madison Square Garden.

"Just clean up things. Just keep polishing things and making sure our breakouts are where they're supposed to be," said captain Gabriel Landeskog on the team's practice goals for the next seven days. "Our forecheck is good, obviously special teams is going to be important as well. Basically just polishing up all the things, and all the little things that will add up."

During the Avalanche's six preseason outings, the team found ways to win while also holding onto leads in the third period, an important aspect that the club struggled with last year. But there are still some glaring holes that need to be filled for head coach Jared Bednar.

"You saw our game (in Vegas), we have some significant work to do," Bednar said after Friday's practice at Family Sports Center. "We're going to have to be better than that come the regular season if we want to win. I think the last two games we did a lot of good things in a lot of areas, but we also relied on our goaltender too much in my opinion.

"Yesterday, they controlled the game for a too big period of time. In Dallas (on Monday), we had a real good start and then they took it over. We bounced back a bit, but last night we were opportunistic and relied on our goalie too much."

Landeskog agrees with Bednar good and bad assessment. He says the club has worked hard in their practices and games during the two-week training camp, but it needs to aim on sustaining that effort for 60 minutes, game in and game out.

"From an energy standpoint and a passion standpoint and how hard we play, that is something that you can never compromise on," Landeskog said. "You always have to have your work ethic there. You look at our game last night in Vegas, we were pretty flat through the first two periods and we still came out of there with a lead going into the third. That is something that we definitely can't compromise on."

Video: Gabriel Landeskog recaps the Avs' preseason

What Colorado does have on its side are practices. The team is scheduled to hit the ice four more times before traveling to New York.

With so many days between games, the Avs will be managing their players carefully, making sure any bumps and bruises are heeled but also so the squad isn't overworked for when the puck drops at the "World's Most Famous Arena."

The Avalanche gave maintenance days on Friday to forward Nathan MacKinnon, defenseman Erik Johnson and goaltender Semyon Varlamov, holding each off the ice from the practice session.

Two players that continue to skate on their own before the formal team sessions were forwards Joe Colborne and A.J. Greer, both of whom wore red, non-contact jerseys.

Greer is still taking it slow after being diagnosed with a concussion and skated for only the second straight day, while Colborne appears to be on track in his recovery from a back injury as he participated in non-hitting drills with the group.

"I think the plan is to get him back with the team in a regular jersey hopefully Monday or Tuesday," Bednar said of the next step in Colborne's rehab.

Video: Avs head coach Jared Bednar after practice

It has yet to be determined if Colborne and Greer will be available for opening night.

Colorado's roster still has 29 players on it, and the team will need to get down to the league-mandated 23 by Tuesday.

The Avs made one transaction on Friday that could be a precursor of things to come with their lineup. They placed Duncan Siemens on waivers, but the team is not planning on reassigning the defenseman to the American Hockey League's San Antonio Rampage at this time.

"Not just yet," Bednar said. "I think that move gives us some flexibility, but for now he's with us."

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