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Avalanche Down A Few Swedes In Sweden

Three of Colorado's four Swedish players missed Tuesday's practice

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

STOCKHOLM--As the Colorado Avalanche prepares for two games against the Ottawa Senators in Sweden, the club is missing a couple of their Swedish players. Three-fourths of them to be exact.

Only Avalanche captain and Stockholm native Gabriel Landeskog participated in the team's practice at the Ericsson Globe on Tuesday morning, as fellow Swedes Anton Lindholm (Skelleftea), Patrik Nemeth (Stockholm) and Carl Soderberg (Malmo) all missed the hour-long session for a variety of reasons. Nemeth may be the only one of trio that will play in Friday's contest, the first of a back-to-back against Ottawa as part of the SAP NHL Global Series.

Lindholm, who is out indefinitely with a broken jaw suffered on Saturday at Philadelphia, and Soderberg didn't make the trip to their home country. Lindholm returned to Colorado to be further evaluated, while Soderberg accompanied him to be with his wife, who is expecting the birth of the family's third child any day now.

There is a chance that Soderberg will join the Avs for the games in his native land, but it depends on timing. It's a long flight from Denver to Stockholm, and the center would need time to adjust his body to be ready to play after a four-day layoff.

Video: Patrik Nemeth on being in Sweden

Nemeth didn't practice on Tuesday for an undisclosed reason, but he did take the ice briefly before the session to be part of the team photo.

His absence appears to be just precautionary, and he said he expects to play over the weekend.

"That was kind of the plan to not go today, but doing the best I can to get back." Nemeth said.

For Landeskog, the trip to his hometown has been something he's looked forward to since the contests were first announced last spring. He's been more than willing to play tour guide for teammates, giving them info on where to eat and what to do and see while in Stockholm.

"When you come home, you come home, and it's a great feeling every time," Landeskog said. "It's a little different this time rolling in on the bus and having my teammates that I spend all year with, but it's been a lot of fun."

Video: Landeskog after practice in Sweden

Landeskog admitted that some of the Colorado players might already be a little annoyed with having him as their chaperone in a new country.

"Coming in from the airport, I was telling them about every single house and every single building on our way in," Landeskog said. "At one point, everyone was just yelling at me to be quiet and let them enjoy their bus ride on their own. I'm enjoying that, and I think it is going to be a lot of fun. I've already noticed that they're going to enjoy the city and a lot of them are impressed."

Tuesday's practice wasn't just a homecoming for some of the Avs, but it also an introduction to a new club for defenseman Samuel Girard.

The Avalanche acquired the 19-year-old Girard from the Nashville Predators in a three-team trade on Sunday night, and the offensive-minded blueliner met the club for the first time on Tuesday morning. He was coming from Los Angeles after the Predators played at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

Girard was paired with fellow rookie rear guard Andrei Mironov during the Tuesday practice session, but it isn't certain that the two will play together moving forward. What is known is that Bednar expects Girard to suit up in the Avalanche's game on Friday.

"We have a couple days here to brush him up," Bednar said of the team's new addition. "We talked to him a little this morning. We'll trickle some information to him here this week, today, tomorrow and Thursday before practice, and get him up to speed so he feels comfortable and ready to play."

Video: Bednar after the Avs first practice in Sweden

Colorado also might get a couple of injured players back during the two-game series.

Blake Comeau, who took a puck to the ear in the first period Sunday night and didn't return to the contest at the New York Islanders, appears to be cleared to play. He took part in some of Tuesday's practice in a red, non-contact jersey but finished up in a regular uniform, allowing him to take part in hitting.

Forwards J.T. Compher (broken thumb) and Colin Wilson (hip) also could reenter the lineup after missing the last several weeks.

"We're hopeful that we'll get some of those guys back here. I think that will be determined as the week goes on," Bednar said. "Another day off tomorrow will be good for some of them. Have a good practice Thursday and then we'll make our decisions for the weekend. We have a couple extra bodies here, so we'll do what is right for our club and for those players in their return."

Video: Compher on returning to practice

Compher has continued to skate since getting hurt while blocking a shot on Oct. 19 against the St. Louis Blues, giving him an advantage to keep his conditioning up. The last step for him is being able to stickhandle and shoot with a playing brace on.

He was a full participant in the Avs' practice at the Globe, but him playing versus the Senators is dependent on how he progresses.

"It was good to test it out today, and definitely getting closer," Compher said. "That's the plan, keep taking it day-by-day and seeing when it feels comfortable to play. I think today was a positive. It was good to get out there and get back out with the team."

When Compher does come back, Bednar said the forward is slotted as the team's No. 2 center on a line with Sven Andrighetto and Nail Yakupov, a spot that was previously held by Matt Duchene before Sunday's trade.

"It will be a good opportunity, and I'm excited about it," Compher said about the possibility of leading a top-six line. "First things first is getting healthy and making sure I'm comfortable and whatever the coaches give me or spot they put me in, I'm excited about it. Just like I've done since the start of the year and training camp, try to take advantage of it."

Compher's fellow rookie pivot, Tyson Jost, is more doubtful to play this weekend as he battles back from a lower-body injury. Jost did practice with the club, but he did it in a non-contact jersey.

The injured Avalanche players will get some extra rest to help them recover as Wednesday is a full day off for the team. Then it's back to work with a practice on Thursday before the first game day of the Global Series on Friday.

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