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Colorado Aims For Improvement On First Road Trip

Calvin Pickard to start in net against Pittsburgh

by Ron Knabenbauer @RonKnab /

CENTENNIAL, Colo.--Rene Bourque was absent from the Colorado Avalanche's practice on Sunday morning at Family Sports Center, but the forward should be ready to go for Monday's game at the Pittsburgh Penguins.

"He's just getting a little work done on the (training) table this morning," Avs head coach Jared Bednar said of Bourque. "He's got a little soreness in his lower body. He's going to get that worked on and get ready to go tomorrow."

One player that won't play in the meeting against the defending Stanley Cup champions is John Mitchell. The center will remain back in Denver during the club's first road trip of the season to continue rehabbing from a hip-flexor injury he suffered during training camp.

Mitchell continued skating on his own on Sunday, as he donned a red non-contact jersey on the ice before the team practice started.

Colorado begins the four-game trek on the East Coast with a back-to-back, facing Pittsburgh on Monday and the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. The Avs then play at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and the Florida Panthers on Saturday to close out the six-day voyage.

Bednar is looking for his team to build on the momentum from Saturday's season opener, a 6-5 victory against the Dallas Stars.

"It's a big test for us. The focus last night was we wanted to bring our best in front of our home crowd. I thought they were excellent last night. Lots of energy, and our guys fed off that," Bednar said. "Now going on the road, it's a different test. First time going out as a group, playing some of the best teams out east, and we just have to break it down and go one game at a time. Our goal is that we expect to win every night. We're not looking at the road trip as a whole. We're going into every game with the expectation that we're going to play our best hockey and try to win."

Video: Coach Bednar previews the Avs' first road trip

Bednar was mostly pleased with what he saw from the Avs in the first game of the season, but there is still plenty of room for improvement after narrowly winning the high-scoring affair

"It's all correctable. We worked on that a little bit today," Bednar said of the errors Colorado made against Dallas. "The mistakes that I felt that might have cost us were up-ice. So you saw today, we worked on our forecheck and our neutral-zone forecheck, just to make sure we're not having any breakdowns up there that would lead to odd-man rushes against. That's where I thought we got hurt a little bit last night."

Goaltender Calvin Pickard will get the start against the Penguins while Semyon Varlamov will be in net Tuesday versus the Capitals, his former club.

Game time on Monday is 5 p.m. MT. It will be televised locally on Altitude, while Altitude Sports AM 950 in Denver will have the call on the radio.

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